Skip to main content

Full text of "Among the Indians of Guiana"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 

^» ■■ 

:■ _ w^ 














A Ifacasi ludiaii is full dancing dress. 






By EVERAED F. im THURN, M.A. Oxox. 





JUN 2 3 1992 .^%^^ 


{TTie rights of trtmslation and of reprodnotion are reserved) 












British OriAKA 

1 I O 1 *^ * 


In July 1877 I first landed in British Guiana, and on 
Christmas Day, 1879, the intermediate two and a half years 
having been spent, in about equal proportion, in wandering 
among the Indians and in the chief town of the colony, I 
left the country, as I then thought, for ever. 

During the following two years, spent in England, when- 
ever there came a j^erfectly fine day, whether in spring, 
summer, autumn, or in winter, and whenever I was able to 
spend those too rare opportunities of perfect life in wander- 
ing over down-country, or through English lanes and woods, 
or by that ever pleasant river which runs past Oxford town, 
then I felt that the unspeakable pleasure of such a day 
surpassed by far all that the days, and all that the years, 
however pleasant, which a man may spend in the tropics 
can afford. But when, very much more often, gloomy days 
had to be endured, then my thoughts invariably turned 
westward, and I longed to be once more among the deep 
shadows and broken lights of the gigantic tropical forests, 
on the sunlit waters of the broad rivers, or on the rolling, 
limitless savannahs, among which I had learned to know the 


larger and more free ways of Nature. And so it happened 
that, two days before the Christmas of 1881, 1 once more 
came to Guiana. 

During, and immediately after, my first \dsit to the , 
colony, I had at various times and in various newspapers 
published disconnected sketches of my travels and, especi- 
ally, of experiences among the Eed men. These sketches 
very soon passing out of print, and there being among my 
papers much similar but unpublished matter, I, when 
finally settled, as I thought, in England, set to work to 
weave this material into a general description of the colony 
in all its aspects. Those who have tried a like task will 
understand how often I found myself in want of further 
information on almost every successive point. And so it 
happened that the work was not quite well enough patched 
together, was certainly not satisfactorily done, when I quite 
unexpectedly found myself about to return to the colony of 
which I was writing. Then I put away my papers and 
determined to wait for further experience. 

But certain papers on anthropological subjects among 
those which had already been published had attracted some 
attention, more perhaps than they deserved ; and it was 
exactly these which were in a most finished condition. I 
therefore re-wrote and added to them, and now publish 
them in this volume, together with a few chapters descrip- 
tive of the country where dwell the Eed men of whom my 
story more especially tells. 

I ought to add that the substance of the chapter on 


Indian religion, and of that part of another chapter which 
deals with stone-implements, has .already appeared in the 
* Journal of the Anthropological Institute ' ; that the two 
first chapters in the present volume are re-written firom a 
paper read by me before the Rojral Geographical Society ; 
and that the chapter on plant life appeared almost in its 
present form in the * Gardener's Chronicle.' 

Most men like to record in their prefaces the names of 
those who have helped them in their work ; but were I to 
allow myself this pleasure with any fireedom I should far 
exceed all reasonable limits. I must, however, make men- 
tion, among the friends who have helped me in England, 
of Mr. E. B. Tylor and Mr. A. W. Franks, and also of 
the authorities at Kew Gardens; nor can I pass without 
mention, among those, dwellers in Guiana, to whom I am 
indebted for services directed toward the same end, Mr. W. 
H. Campbell, who, but that the acciuracy of his scientific 
knowledge and the deficiency of his years deny, might, in all 
other respects, be regarded as the proverbial * oldest inhabi- 
tant ' of the colony ; or Mr. N. Darnell Davis, a true West 
Indian bibliophile ; or Mr. James Thomson, whose kindness, 
both as editor successively of the two newspapers in which 
most of my sketches appeared, and as my informant on 
many points ; or Mr. G. S. Jenman, the official botanist, 
whose botanical knowledge of Guiana is in exceeding pro- 
portion to the comparative shortness of his experience there. 
Lastly, but by no means least, I here record my gratitude to 
the lady friend who drew for this book two of the coloured 
plates as well as two of the smaller uncoloured illustrations. 

viii PREFACE. 

As regards the other illustrations, the coloured figure of 
a new bird {Agelceus imthumi, Sclater) was prepared for me 
under the kind superintendence of Mr. P. L. Sclater ; the 
Royal Geographical Society has been good enough to supply 
the map; the Anthropological Institute, with equal kind- 
ness, has lent a plate of stone-implements and one small cut 
which were engraved in illustration of my papers published 
in its Journal ; the engravings of scenery and figures were 
prepared from photographs taken for me ; and the figures of 
Indian implements, etc., and of rock engravings, are from 

my own sketches. 







Outline Sketch of the Interior — Methods of Travelling — Bartica 
Grove — Moraballi — A Creek — Hauling the Canoes up the Rapids — 
Moe — ^Night in the Forest— Scenery — Half-bred Brazilians — Pai- 
warikaira — A Peaiman's Vengeance — Healthiness of the Interior — 
Aretaka — A Burning Mora-tree — Magic Sticks — Apooterie — Up the 
Roopoonooni— Scenery — Kaboori-flies — Stopped by Sandbanks — 
A New Crew — Quartama — A Pretty Pond — Pirara Landing . 1 



The Savannah — Indian Settlement at Quatatsk^Indian Visitors — A 
Buck-gun — The City of El Dorado — Rain after Drought — Start for 
the Brazils — Down the Takootoo— Fort St. Joaquim — Cattle Farms 
— Homeward — Fording Lake Amoocoo — The Rivers in the Rainy 
Season — A Notorious Murderer — Shooting the Falls . . .32 



The Fall— First Visit— The Potaro River— Amootoo Cataract— The 
Kaieteur Ravine— To the Foot of the Fall— The Kaieteur in Dry 
Weather,from above — The Kaieteur Savannah — A New Plant {Broo- 
cHnia cordylinoidts, Baker) — A New Bird {AffeloBUt imthumiy 
Sclater)— A Second Visit to the Kaieteur— Beautiful Flowers- 
Portaging the Boat— The Kaieteur from above, in the Rainy Season 
— The best way to visit the Fall— Roraima "*6 





Common Misconception of Tropical Scenery — The Special Case of 
Guiana — General Type of Foliage like that of Temperate Cli- 
mates—Colouring of the Foliage— Colour of Flowers in Mass — 
Beauty of individual Flowers— Scent— Chief Types of Guiana 
Vegetation — A Scene in the Forest— Palm Forests— River-side 
Vegetation — The Cokerite Palm — Savannah Scenery — Water 
Plants 87 



General Considerations — Mammals — Warracaba Tigers — The Colours 
of Birds — Bird-notes — Chief Forms of Birds — Scenes of Bird-life — 
Reptiles — Alligators— Iguanas— Snakes— Turtles — Fish — The Dan- 
gers of Bathing — Insect Plagues — Butterflies — Beetles — Ants — 
Wasps — Mosquitoes — Sandflies — The Mosquito Worm — Jiggers — 
Bush-Ticks — Spiders — Centipedes — Scorpions 106 



Indian Groups in Guiana— The Value of the Groups — Race, Branch, 
Tribe, and Family— Classification of the Principal Tribes— Some 
unimportant or little known Tribes — The Term 'True Carib' — 
Tribal Differences in Language, Physical Characters, and Habits — 
Geographical Distribution of the Tribes — Forest Indians and . 
Savannah Indians — Probable History of the Tribes — Earlier 
Tribes : Warraus, Arawaks, and Wapianas — The Later Immigration 
of Carib Tribes 156 



Arawak System as Type — Description of the System — List of Family 
Names — Origin of the Names— Method of keeping Families dis- 
tinct — Co-existing but Contradictory System of Bride-lifting — 
Evidence of the Existence of this latter System— Two possible Ex- 
planations 176 





PhTsical Characters and Appearance — Artificial Modifications of the 
Body — Ordinary Dress — Body-painting — Ornaments — Regard for 
Personal Appearance — Partial Adoption of European Dress .188 



Distzibntion of the Settlements — The Three Chief Types of Houses — 
Warrau Pile-dwellings — Open Houses in the Forest — Walled 
Houses on the Savannah — Communal Houses in rare Instances — 
PUe-honses occasionally built on the dry Savannah — Benabs, or 
Temporary Huts — Probable History of Development of House- 
building among Indians — Various Thatch-materials . 202 



B^ng Authorities — Observance of Mutual Bights — Treatment of 
Women— The Story of a Day— The Story of a Life— Birth— 
Cov/vade — Childhood — Personal Names-^Marriage — Death — Burial 211 




Hunting Parties — * Beenas ' — Dogs — Fish Poisoning — Bailing out Pools 
for Fish — Fish Arrows : Three Fish Arrows ; a Three-pronged Fish 
Arrow— Hook and Line — Fish Traps — Turtle Arrows — Iguana 
Shooting — Guns — Game Arrows : Iron-headed Game Arrows ; 
Bamboo-headed Arrows ; Poisoned Arrows — Bird Arrows : Special 
Arrows for Large and Small Birds ; Blunt-headed Arrows for Birds 
— Blow-pipes — 'Calling' Birds — Preserving Booty — Return of the 
Hunting Party 227 



An Indian Field— Method of Cultivation— Cassava— Abandonment of 
Field — Maize in the Mountains — Drought and Famine . . . 250 





Cooking done by Women — Fire-making — Staple Food : Meat chiefly 
in the form of Pepper-pot ; Cassava as Bread, Farine, and Paiwari — 
Effect of Cassava on Indian Physique — Salt — Occasional Food : 
Eggs, of Birds, seldom eaten ; of ReptUea, often ; Insects ; Fruits — 
Various Drinks 255 



General Considerations — Pottery — Basket-work — Spinning : Three 
kinds of Fibre; Two Methods of Spinning; Explanation of Co- 
existence of Two Methods — Weaving : Hammock- weaving ; Rude 
Cloth-weaving — Boat-building — Bench-making — Weapon-making 
—Ornament-making— Musical Instruments— Poison-making— Pre- 
paration of Oils, Pitches, Dyes — Tobacco-production . . . 2C0 



Feasting, Drinking, and Games — The Invitation to the Feast — 
Quippoo-writing — Preparations — Arrival of the Guests — Feasting — 
Dancing — Brawls — Bacing and Ball-play — Arawak ^Vhip-game — 
Warrau Shield-game 319 



Relation of Kenaimas and Peaimen — The Kenaima — The Vendetta 
System — Heal and Imaginary Powers of Kenaimas— The Kenaima's 
Method of Work — The Peaiman — His Education and Powers — His 
Method of Cure — Wide Extension of the Peai System . . . 328 



The Religion of the Indians an almost Unmixed Animism — ^Animism 
and Morality entirely Unconnected — Methods of Study — Indian 
Belief in the Two Parts of Man, Body and Spirit — Evidence of the 



Existence and Separability of the Spirit in Death, Sleep, and 
Visions — Power of Transmission of the Spirit into other Bodies — 
Spirits of Animals — Spirits of Fabulous Animals — Spirits of Inani- 
mate Objects — ^Nature of Disease-Spirits — Indian Conception of 
the Spirit World — Greneral Statement of the Lines along which 
Animism might be expected to develop into Higher Religion — 
Indian Conception of Continuance of Spirit after Death of the 
Body — Where Disembodied Spirits Dwell — No Supreme Spirits — 
Nature of the so-called Indian's * Great Spirit ' — Worship, Bites, 
and Ceremonies ^1 



General Statement of the Nature of the Folk-lore — Elements of Error 
in reading the Folk-lore of Savages — Examples of such Error 
regarding God, Prayer, a Deluge, and a World-fire — Mythological 
Legends — The Arrival of Indians upon Earth — The Origin of Cul- 
tivation — Animals and their Doings — Fanciful Explanations of the 
Facts of Nature — Fabled Animals — An Indian Jonah — Historical 
Legends '%^i 



The Various Antiquities — Rook-Pictures— Painted Bocks — Two kinds 
of En-graved Rocks — Shallow Engravings— Deep Engravings — The 
most recent Rock-Engraving — Comparative Study of the Rock- 
Engravings of the World — Shell-Mounds or Kitchen- Middens — 
Probable History of the Shell- Mounds — Stone Implements — 
Manner of Occurrence in Guiana — Some Typical Examples— Some 
Peculiar Examples — Standing Stones — Sites of Ancient Villages . 389 

INDEX 429 




1. A MacQsi in Full Dancing Dress 

2. A Night's Camp .... 

3. Portaging the Boat .... 

4. The Kaietenr Fall (in dry weather) 
6. AgeUeuB imthumi .... 

6. The Kaietenr Fall (in wet weather) 

7. Ackawoi Man and Woman 

8. Two Feather Head-dresses 

9. Engraved Bocks at Warrapoota Fall 
10. Stone Implements from British Gaiana 


To faoepcige 67 


















no. PAGE 

1. Ck)bnngru Woman, showing Leg-bands 192 

2. Macnsi, with Nose and Lip Ornament 193 

3. Method of making Qneyu ........ 194 

4. Nose Ornaments 198 

6. Lip Ornament 199 

6. Cotton Mantle 200 

7. Nose Beena 229 

8. Ant Beena 230 

9. Fish Arrows 235 

10. Turtle Arrow 239 

11. Game Arrows 241 

12. Poisoned Arrows 243 

13. Poisoned Arrow-points and Quiver for same .... 243 

14. Bird Arrows 243 

15. Quiver for Darts of Blow-pipe 246 

16. Blow-pipe 247 


no. PAGR 

17. Fire-sticks 258 

18. Cassava Squeezer 261 

19. Types of Pottery 276 

20. Cassava Sifter 279 

21. Macnsi Bread-basket 279 

22. Arawak Bread-basket 280 

23. Carib Method of making Hammock 289 

24. War Clubs 299 

25. Blow-pipe Darts, unrolled from Guarri 302 

26. Darts, rolled as carried in Quiver 302 

27. Shoulder- ruff of Macaw-feathers 306 

28. Drum 308 

29. Bone Flute 309 

30. Pair of Wooden Flutes .310 

31. -Slolian Harp 310 

32. Dancing-sticks 322 

33. Macquarie Whip 32« 

34. Wrestling Shield 327 

35. Shallow Rock-engravings 392 

36. Deep Rock-engravings 393 

37. Temehri Rock, with engraving 395 

38. Rock- engraving on Camoodi Rock 400 

39. Rock-engraved Ship ' . .400 

40. Spanish Galley (from tomb of Columbus) 401 

41. Mexican Picture-writing 406 

42. Ear-rings 415 

43. War-club with Stone Blade 425 







Outline Sketch of the Interior — Methods of Travelling — Bartica Grove — 
MorabaUi — A Creek — Hauling the Canoes up the Rapids — Moe — Night 
in the Forest — Scenery — Half-bred Brazilians — Paiwarikaira — A Peal- 
man's Vengeance — Healthiness of the Interior — Aretaka — ^A Burning 
Mora-tree — Magic Sticks — Apooterie — Up the Roopoonooni — Scenery — 
Kaboori-flies — Stopped by Sand-banks — A New Crew — Quartama — A 
Pretty Fond—Pirara Landing. 

He who would see the beauty and the great, though unde- 
veloped capabilities of the only English part of the continent 
of South America, must leave behind him the flat and swampy 
coastland of Guiana, and, passing up wide rivers and through 
vast forests, reach the magnificent and wide savannahs, inter- 
sected by the rugged mountain ridges which lie on the furthest 
limits of the colony, and stretch away into the interior of the 
continent. In so doing, the traveller will have to encounter 
many difficulties and some hardships ; but, on the other hand, 
his travels will be through a land the marveUous beauty of 
which will more than recompense his pains, and where new ob- 
jects will occur at every turn to draw his thoughts away from all 
discomforts. Nor have many travellers yet been before him ; 
so that, though he will have the labour of making his own 
path, this will be counterbalanced by the pleasure of visiting 
untrodden ground. 

The country may be said to consist of four tracts, lying 
one beyond the other, parallel to the coast-line. Of these 
only the outermost or sugar tract, which lies nearest to the 




sea-coast, is at present cultivated and inhabited to any con- 
siderable extent. Next to this is the timber tract, from 
which alone timber has as yet been remuneratively brought 
to market. This extends toward the interior as far as the' 
lowest cataracts on the various rivers. It is at present im- 
possible to cut timber profitably beyond these cataracts, owing 
to the difficulty which there would be in carrying any cut 
beyond that to market ; so that an imaginary line, roughly 
parallel to the sea-coast, and cutting each of the great rivers 
at their lowest cataracts, marks the further limit from the 
coast of this tract. This part of the country is only very 
sparingly inhabited by a few wood- cutters, white men and 
black, and by a few Indians. 

The two remaining tracts are entirely uninhabited ex- 
cept by widely scattered Indians of four or five difiFerent 
tribes. The forest tract immediately succeeds the timber 
tract ; and lastly, furthest from the coast, lies the savannah 
tract. The former of these is everywhere covered by dense 
forests, as yet untouched by the woodcutter, and consisting 
largely of the two most valuable trees of the colony — green- 
heart (Xectandra rodicd) and mora (Mora excelsa). The 
land in all these three tracts is generally low, flat and 
swami)y, though in the forest tract the level is occasionally 
broken by sloping hills, by solitary mountains, and even 
by low and unimportant ranges. 

The last of the tracts is formed by the savannah of the in- 
terior. This must be distinguished from the meadows, also 
called savannahs, of the coast and forest tracts. Nearly all 
the small tributary streams of those regions rise in treeless 
n^arshes, which are under water during a large part of the 
year ; and these are called savannahs. Again, along the banks 
of the Berbice and Corentyn rivers, often not far from the sea, 
there are considerable patches of open grass-land ; and these, 
too, are called savannahs. But the chief savannah, that which 
forms the savannah tract, is of all the land of British Guiana 
farthest from the sea ; it borders on the Brazils, from which 
it is only separated by the Cotinga and Takootoo rivers ; and 


it is continued without any significant interruption into the 
great grass-plain which occupies so much of the interior of 
South America, Our share of this large meadow is about 
14,000 square miles in extent. On it stand the only con- 
siderable mountains of British Guiana. 

There are no roads in the colony except that which runs 
along the coast. But four great rivers, the Essequibo, the 
Demerara, the Berbice, and the Corentyn, run, nearly paialle 
to each other, from the interior to the sea ; and into these 
fJass many tributary streams, often of considerable size. The ' 
ftmr m ain rivers are the high roads, and their tributaries, to- 
gether with a few Indian tracks through the forest, perhaps 
hardly discernible to an unpractised eye, are the cross roads, 
along which all travelling within the forest region must be 
don^e by canoe or on foot. When once the savannahs are 
reached, it becomes possible to travel either, as before, along 
the rivers or by walking. It was up the largest of the rivers — 
the Essequibo — that I made my way in 1878 on to the 
savannah, over which I pass^ to the remote edge of the 
colony and on into Brazilian territory. 

To give some account of the interior of Guiana is a 
necessary preliminary of my task. On each of my jour- 
neys I wrote down day by day the story of my travels. 
These diaries might, therefore, be transcribed with hardly 
any alteration. But such a diary, however interesting to the 
traveller himself and to his friends, and however many in- 
teresting fact« it may contain, must always be tedious to the 
geileral reader. On the other hand, it is very difficult to 
give a description of a comparatively unknown land without 
using some such thread, on which to string the facts, as is 
afforded by a journal. And this is in a special degree true 
of the interior of British Guiana ; for all that is known about 
it amounts but to a very considerable number of discon^ 
nected facts. I shall, therefore, use the diary of one of my 
journeys as a thread on which will be strung all pertinent 
facts derived either from my own experiences or from those 
of previous travellers in the same region. 

B 2 


A line of steamers, largely subsidised by the Grovemment, 
runs from Georgetown to the Berbice on the one hand, and 
to the Essequibo on the other ; and smaller steamers run 
twice in each week up the Essequibo, the Demerara, and the 
Berbice, These steamers are almost thft only means yet At- 
tempted of opening up the colony. The small steamer runs 
up the Essequibo for a distance of about thirty-five miles from 
the mouth, partly for the convenience of the few who travel 
in that direction, but chiefly for Government purposes, the 
penal settlement of the colony being situajbed-on the Mazeruni, 
a large tributary of the Essequibo. It was by this latter 
steamer that I reached the outskirts of civilisation, at Bartica 
Grove, which stands at the junction of the Mazeruni with the 

Leaving Georgetown early in the morning, we passed for 
two hours along the coast, and then ran into the Essequibo. 
On board was a most heterogeneous and picturesque crowd 
of East Indians, Chinese, Indians, Negroes, together with 
Portuguese and a few other white men. Nearly every indivi- 
dual of this crowd travelled with a strange assortment of lug- 
gage, varying from a bedstead or waggon to a pair of live fowls 
or a parrot. On either side of the river the banks were low 
and swampy, densely covered with comida bushes {Avicennia 
nitida)j mangroves (Rhizophora 7nangal\ and palm-trees. 
In the evening, about four o'clock, we reached Bartica Grove. 

Bartica Grove, once a flourishing mission station, is now 
reduced to a few wooden huts, used as stores, a church re- 
cently half-restored from a most ruinous condition, a few 
small living houses, and some timber-sheds. These latter are 
picturesque buildings, consisting of a few upright posts sup- 
porting roofs of withered palm-leaves. Under their eaves 
colonies of gigantic green spiders, as large as thrush's eggs, 
watch their webs, undisturbed from year's end to year's end. 
The whole sleepy, beautiful village lies under the shade of an 
avenue of large mango-trees. From this avenue the view 
riverward is of an enormous stretch of water ; the view land- 
ward is of a tangled shrubbery of flowering bushes, from 


which rise groups of graceful pahns, and is bounded in the 
distance by the edge of the forest. The ditches and paths 
in the village are choked by great masses of maidenhair 
ferns and silver-backed gymnograms. 

The decaying village is now chiefly inhabited by so-called 
* river-men.' These are idle negroes and half-castes who make 
a living on the timber-grants, or as best they can. There are 
also a few inhabitants of a better kind, chiefly store-keepers. 
As many of the river-men have had considerable practice in 
passing the fells which so greatly obstruct the rivers of the 
country, these men have generally been employed as boat- 
hands by travellers into the interior. They are, however, as 
I had found on a previous occasion, an unmanageable and 
disagreeable set, and it is, therefore, fer pleasanter to employ 
only Indians, who are not only much more easily managed, 
but also— and this is a most important consideration to a 
traveller who must make companions of his crew — are far 
more pleasant in manner. Having already made the neces- 
sary arrangements, I was met at the Grove by a crew of 
Macusi Indians who were to accompany me into the interior. 

The party consisted of my companions Messrs. Flint and 
Eddington, myself, and our Indians. 

For some distance from Bartica Grove we passed through 
scenery which, if somewhat monotonous, is yet extremely 
beautiful, and is characteristic of this timber tract. The river 
in this part varies from about one and a half to two miles in 
width. A few islands of various sizes are scattered through 
the reaches. The banks on both sides of the river, as well 
as the islands, are everywhere clothed, down to the edge of 
the water, with rounded masses of foliage, generally laurel- 
like in character, and really, though not apparently, rising 
to a great height. The whole scene is on so gigantic a scale 
that these forests seem hardly more than low bush. There 
was but little flower to add to the colour ; but here and there, 
highest among the banked foliage, a mora-tree, breaking into 
new leaf of most varied shades, white, pale liver-coloured, a 
4eeper red^ and occasionally even a deep bright crimson, stood 


out in vivid contrast with the varied greens of the surrounding 
trees* Lower on the bank of foliage, the large white and 
crimson flowers and huge dark pods of the white chocolate- 
tree {Paohira aquaticaj Aubl.) attracted the eye to where 
small flights of day-bats, startled by our passing boat, flitted 
about among the roots which rose from the water in the 
shadow of the overhanging trees. 

Some fifteen miles above the Grove, the river suddenly 
contracts to a width of less than a quarter of a mile, forming 
a narrow reach called the * Monkey Jump,' through which the 
current forces its way with great violence. Passing through 
this we came out in a very few minutes into a new reach of 
the river, wider than before. 

With a careful pilot a small steamer might penetrate a 
little beyond the * Monkey Jump,' to a point a few miles be- 
fore the first falls on the river at Aretaka. A few years ago 
a path was cut through the forest from this highest point 
navigable for a steamer to the Kaieteur fall on the Potaro 
river, which in height, volume, and in the beauty of the 
surrounding scenery, must rank among the very finest falls 
in the world. Probably, however, it will be long before this 
path, which was cut under Government direction in the hope 
of attracting strangers, is made easy enough for the ordinary 
traveller. At present it has not been once used, and much 
of it is already obliterated by the rapid growth of tropical 

Opposite to the point from which this path starts stands 
Moraballi, a cluster of three houses, inhabited by a wood- 
cutter and his family, and interesting to us as the last civi- 
lised houses which we were to see for six months. 

The scenery was characteristic. The sheet of water, 
some four miles in length and from two to three in width, 
was closed at either end by a curve in the course of the 
river. The smooth and lake-like water was broken in some 
half-dozen places by projecting rocks on which there was 
perhaps a bush or two, or at least some long waving grass. 
In one place a school of white river porpoises was splashing 


up the water. The banks framing the scene were every- 
where clothed with a dense mass of trees, the foliage of 
which passed in varied and rounded curves down to the edge 
of the water. These trees, really of enormous height, seemed 
but a low, even-topped, far-extending * bush.' In one place 
only were the banks cleared of trees ; and there, under the 
shade of two enormous clumps of gracefully arching bamboos 
stood the wooden-galleried cottages of MorabaUi. Among 
these houses were a few crimson-flowered hibiscus bushes, and 
behind was a tree, at that time white with flower, like an 
English cherry-tree in May. A wonderfully clear, yellowish 
light was over the whole picture. 

Just beyond the houses, Moraballi creek runs into the 
Essequibo. These creeks, or tributary streams, some of 
which are of such considerable size that they might well be 
called rivers, are very numerous throughout the courses of 
most of the rivers of Guiana. 

It was in passing up this very creek, on a previous occa- 
sion, that I first understood the beauty of a tropical forest. 
On the nxain rivers the scenery is too large to be well 
understood; but these smaller streams give more definite 
impressions. Moraballi creek is about the width of the 
Cherwell at Oxford. The bright, dark red, wine-coloured 
water runs, arched over by gigantic trees and palms and 
ferns, through dense shade. The swampy banks are thickly 
set with ferns and large lily-leaved aroids. At the water's 
edge a carpet of half-transparent filmy ferns and mosses is 
kept continually moist. From the trees which meet over- 
head, roots and leafless stems of wiry creeping plants hang 
down to the water ; and on some of these humming-birds fix 
their tiny nests. There is no colour ; the light is very dim ; 
the air is very cool and almost chilly. But in one place, 
where a tree had fallen and left a space in the forest roof, the 
glorious and intensely blue sky appeared, its colour thrown 
into extraordinary vividness by a wreath of scarlet-blossomed 
passion-flower which had thrown itself across the open space 
from tree to tree. On the fisillen tree, now lying leafless and 


branchless across the stream, almost touching the water, 
perched a great grey-blue kingfisher, which, frightened by 
the approach of our boat, flew screaming down the dark, 
arched streamway which lay beyond us. 

But I should never end were I to try to describe all the 
beauties of this creek ; so I must satisfy myself by adding 
that the peculiarly impressive eflfect of a tropical forest is 
never more apparent than in such creeks. 

Leaviqg Moraballi, we soon reached the farthest point to 
which the tide runs. This is some sixty miles from the sea, at 
the first rapids, called Aretaka, which separate the timber from 
the forest tract. These rapids, which interrupt the course 
of the river for upwards of fifteen miles, are very similar, 
diflFering probably only in their greater or less length, to 
most of those which obstruct the rivers of Gruiana and 
render navigation difficult; so that a description of these 
will serve to give a general idea of all. 

In Aretaka rapids it is impossible to form an idea of the 
real width of the river. As far as the eye can see is a vast 
extent of water, from which rise many rocks and islands of all 
sizes. The rocks sometimes stand singly, sometimes in 
groups, sometimes piled in large numbers one over the 
other ; some of these support a few water-guava bushes or 
even a few stunted and gnarled trees. The larger islands 
are generally covered with trees, and often, from their extent, 
are hardly distinguishable from the banks of the river. The 
water rushes, gurgling and foaming, in all directions among 
the boulders. A few banks of yellow sand crop out among 
the rocks. It was normally the dry season, and an abnormal 
drought had prevailed for a year and a half, so that the bed of 
the river was even more exposed than usual. 

On the larger islands and on the banks of these rapids live 
a good many Indians, chiefly Caribs, and a few half-breeds 
between negroes and Indians, called ^ Cobungrus.' These 
latter retain the many good qualities of the Indian, and 
to these they add the few good qualities, such as physique 
and strength, of the West Indian negro. We took up our 


quarters for a few days at the house of one of these Cobun- 
grus, a finely built man named Cephas, more than half 
Carib, -who held by commission from the governor of the 
colony the oddly combined offices of rural constable and 
chief of the Indians of the Essequibo river. His curly hair 
gave indications of his black blood, but in all other respects 
he looked and lived a true Indian. As he limped down to 
meet us under the trees at the waterside, his naked red skin, 
relieved only by the usual dark blue lap or loin cloth, and by 
a 6plen<lid necklace of highly polished teeth of bush-hogs or 
peccaries, he was certainly a picturesque figure. The cause 
of his limp was evident in a horrible-looking wound con- 
spicuous on one shin. This had been produced twenty- 
seven months previously by the bite of a large snake. The 
wound kept him in his hammock for fifteen months, but since 
that he had been able to get about as freely as ever except 
for the odd hopping action in his walk. 

Some Kttle distance from the river, on top of a hill, the 
three or four huts which form the settlement stand, sur- 
rounded by charred trunks of trees, by cassava and other 
plants cultivated by the Indians, and by razor grass (Scleria 
BCiTideas) and other weeds, in a clearing walled by tall forest 

The houses consisted only of four posts supporting a roof 
of palm leaves. The women were at the moment engaged in 
making cassava bread. The rich red colour of their skin, 
made yet more red by paint, the red waistcloths which 
formed their only dress, the red-dyed cotton bands which were 
fastened round their legs, below the knee and above the ankle, 
the vast quantities of red beads round their necks and waists, 
and the many red- stained cotton hammocks slung in the houses 
made up a striking picture — a harmony in red and brown. 

As on every other occasion in which I have taken up my 
quarter in the houses of Indians of various tribes, the people 
were civil, hospitable, and pleasant. On this occasion hospi- 
tality was largely exercised in bringing us calabashes of casiri 
— a slightly alcoholic drink made of cassava, maize, and sweet-- 


potatoes, which tastes, not unpleasantly, like something be- 
tween sour porter and thin claret. 

As our object in staying at Aretaka was to fill up some 
vacancies in our crews, and as after a stay of two days we 
found it impossible to get men to man more than ;two 
canoes, we had to leave the third behind, and on the morning 
of the 22nd of February our expedition, as finally organised, 
made its real start up the river. 

One day passes very like another to the traveller as he 
ascends the river in his canoe. During the first two days 
we were slowly making our way up the Aretaka rapids. 
The rocks, on account of the unusual drjTiess of the season^ 
were very much exposed, and the water-channels between 
them, though numerous, were both narrow and shallow. 
The canoes often had to be dragged by main force over the 
rocky floor. Where the channels were deeper the water 
rushed down more violently, and it was difficult to haul the 
canoes against the current. But the Indians worked wonder- 
fully. Some swam, and had hard work to keep their course in 
the Pushing water. Others, up to their waists or even up to 
their necks in water, stood on half-submerged rocks hauling 
by means of ropes attached to the canoes. All laughed and 
shouted ; and the roar of the river half-drowned their noise. 
The only woman of the party worked at least as energeti- 
cally as the men. ^Once she suddenly lost her footing, 
slipped, and was swept down the river, the current carrying 
her right under the canoe. The half-terrified, half-amused 
expression on her wholly hideous face, when it reappeared 
from under the water, was most ludicrous. She swam like a 
fish, and was soon running on the rocks and pulling again 
as strongly as ever. All Indians, men and women alike, 
swim splendidly, but with a peculiar action. The legs are 
hardly spread, but are bent somewhat downward at an angle 
to the trunk, and are then suddenly again straightened, thus 
driving forward the body of the swimmer. 

Here the confusion may be noted which is caused by the 
£act that travellers in those parts make no distinction in their 

MOfi. • 1 1 

use of the words ' rapid,' * catarax^t,' and * fall ' respectively. 
The first word should, it seems to me, be confined to places 
where the water passes down a very slight, however long, in- 
cline, usually among many scattered rocks. A ^ cataract ' is 
a place where a great body of water falls suddenly down a 
ledge of rock, abrupt but not perpendicular. Lastly, the word 
**M1 ' should only be used of such places where the water falls ' 
abruptly down an unbroken cliflF-like face of perpendicular 
rock, usually from a more considerable height than in the 
former cases. If these terms were used only in this way a 
very considerable increase in clearness would be given to 
our maps, and travellers would know better what lies before 

Among our crew was a Macusi boy called Moe, the son of 
the woman just mentioned. He was returning to his home 
on the savannah, after having spent two years in the service 
of a coloured man in G-eorgetown, where he had learned to 
speak English and to wear clothes. It was strange how 
quickly he now fell back into his old Indian habits. Even 
on the first day he threw oflF his clothes and resumed the 
ordinary Indian lap, a narrow strip of cloth passed between 
the legs, and suspended in front and at the back on a string 
tied round the waist. As he moved about among the 
other Indians, it was very evident that the clothes which he 
had worn for two years had made his skin become much 
fairer in tint. Strangely enough, he alone of all the 
Indians looked naked, and it was some months before the 
h'ghter tint of his skin, with the consequent effect of naked- 
ness, disappeared. In other respects also he differed from 
the other Indians. He was even from the first lively and 
talkative, while they were for some time reserved and 
shy. He had learned some ugly tricks in town, such as 
swearing, though he did not know the meaning of the bad 
language he used. Once when I was teasing him, he calmly 
and with a pretty smile recommended me ^ to go to hell, 

The banks of the Essequibo above Aretaka are almost 


uninhabited, even by Indians ; throughout the several hun- 
dred miles of country through which we passed between 
Aretaka and the mouth of the Boopoonooni, we came across 
but three or four settlements. Our camps, therefore, were 
generally made in the forest. As, however, Indians are 
continually passing up and down the river, there are cer- 
tain recognised camping- places, from which the bush has been 
cleared. Sometimes, however, when as night approached 
we were not near one of those places, we had to clear ground 
for ourselves in the bush. The nights spent in the open 
air in the tropics are a pleasant memory. By the time 
the camp was ready the daylight had faded, and our fires 
alone threw round a circle of flickering light, contrasting 
strangely with the darkness of the surrounding forest. 
Where the firelight was strongest the Indians lay, smoking 
and talking in their hammocks, close to each of which was a 
fire, which occasionally flared up and seemed to lick the naked 
skins of the Indians through the meshes of the hammock. 
Not content with this, the Indians sometimes made the boys 
take lighted palm-leaves and singe them as they lay in their 
hammocks, this strange proceeding being intended to de- 
stroy savage insects. 

One by one the Indians fell asleep. Various kinds of 
frogs kept up an almost deafening concert of marvellously 
varied croaks, some musical, some most unmusical. One 
imitated the beat of paddles striking in regular time against 
the sides of a canoe after the Indian custom ; and the like- 
ness was the more deceitful because the sound alternately 
rose and fell gradually as though a canoe came up the river, 
passed the camp, and was then paddled up the stream out 
of ear-reach. Often and often I have lain long in doubt 
whether the sound heard was caused by paddles or by frogs. 
And while the frogs croaked, every now and then a night- 
jar flitted swiftly and most silently by, and then suddenly 
shrieked out its loud cry of * Worh-work-^vorlcrto-heU.^ Or 
another and larger species began to moan out the four notes 
of its most hideous and depressing cry of * Who-who-who^ 


tchoy* each note sounded in rapid succession, the first shrill 
and high-pitched, each of the succeeding ones lower, and 
the last an almost inaudible moan. It is only comparable to 
the cry of a despairing and dying human being. At times was 
heard the noise — something between a snort and a bellow — 
of a cayman ; and at other times mysterious sounds, resem- 
bling the crack of pistol-shots, which I afterwards found were 
caused by caymans raising their tails into the air and brings 
ing them down sharply on the surface of the water. 

Toward morning the loudest and most appalling noise of 
all broke out. Beginning suddenly in a deep roar, it became 
louder and louder, till the whole forest rang with the din. 
It is hardly possible on first hearing this to believe that the 
terrific roar is produced only by the somewhat small red 
howling monkey {Mycetea aenicidus)^ called baboon in the 

Before daylight the Indians were out of their hammocks, 
making preparation for the coming day's journey. A plunge 
into the river was the first thing. In the early morning 
the temperature near the river is comparatively low ; though 
the thermometer stands perhaps at 70°, the air feels as 
chilly as on an autumn day in England, and the water, 
having retained much of the warmth imparted by the sun 
of the previous day, seems by contrast like that of a warm 

And now the sound and sights of the day began. Some 
toucans, perched on the very highest boughs of a tall tree, 
were revelling in the morning sun, and greeting it with 
their usual yelping cries. Emphasis is given to each puppy- 
like yelp by an odd and comical antic ; the head is jerked 
down, the tail lifted almost at right angles to the body. In 
the distance an Indian canoe appeared &om behind a bend in 
the river. The naked skins of the Indians in it literally 
flashed red in the intense light. A scarlet ibis {Ibis rubra) 
— the only one, by the way, that I ever saw so high up 
on this liver — flew by and settled upon a tree between us 
and the approaching canoe ; but it hardly looked more red 


than did the Indians. Flights of parrots, crying shrilly, 
began to pass over the river to their feeding grounds, flying 
so high that their colours were not to be discerned. From 
the forest the ^ pi-pi-yo,* or greenheart bird {Lipangua cine^ 
rdceus)^ began incessantly to cry its own Indian name ; this is, 
if not the commonest, yet certainly the most noticed bird in 
the forests of Gruiana, for its shrill cry, heard nearly all day 
long, is the most characteristic sound of these forests. 

Having no animal food, we stopped early in the day to 
hunt. Half the booty, a young tapir, was given to the Indians, 
who, as usual, immediately boiled and began to eat it ; for 
an Indian, when he gets flesh, is never satisfied until it is 
all eaten, after which he contentedly does without animal 
food until he has sufficient energy to go and procure a fresh 
supply. The other half of the tapir was put on a babracot to 
dry. A babracot is a small stage of green sticks, built some 
two feet above the fire, on which the flesh is placed and 
smoked. Flesh treated in this way, though it loses its dis- 
tinctive flavour, keeps good for many days even in that 

Just opposite to us was Gluck Island, which I visited on 
another occasion to examine a pond long known as one of 
the native haunts of the Victoria regia lily. The pond 
was so closely surrounded by high and rankly luxuriant 
vegetation that it was impossible to see the water from the 
damp, swampy banks. But by climbing a tree which grew 
out over the water, and so getting above the thick growth 
of tall reeds and prickly palms, we got a view over the whole 
pond. Except one small plant at the further end, the lily 
had entirely disappeared; this was probably owing to the 
late times of dry weather, which had caused the pond to dry 
and so allowed the heat of the sun to kill the plants. The 
same fate had happened during the past season to the lily in 
several ponds in and near Georgetown, into which it had 
been introduced. 

While climbing down from my post of observation on 
the tree, I heard the Indians shouting out that they had 


found a cayman's nest. Among the deep mass of rotting 
leaves on the bank of the pond, in a gloomily dark and 
damp place under trees and reeds, was a fitting spot for 
such a nest. On a large heap of decaying vegetable matter, 
evidently collected by the parent cayman, lay thirty-seven 
large, long-shaped eggs with thick, porcelain-like shells. 
The True Caribs greedily seized them as a delicacy. After- 
wards, at dinner, I eat part of one of the eggs, boiled hard, 
and found it very like a duck's egg in texture and taste, but 
with a fiedntly perceptible flavour of musk. 

Just as we were going to sleep that night, the Indians 
insisted on loading the guns and placing them near our 
hammocks, saying that there were Ackawoi kenaimas, or 
murderers, about. We had seen men of that tribe passing 
and repassing during the afternoon ; but I need hardly say 
that the assertion that these had murderous intentions to- 
wards us was unfounded. It is, however, very common for 
one tribe to make this accusation against the members of 
another tribe. There is, as will presently be explained, 
some occasional foundation for it. The Ackawois bear a 
particularly bad character in this respect. 

Far into the night the Indians, sitting in a circle round 
the camp fires, continued to gorge their food ; and at last, 
when weary of sitting up to eat, they threw themselves into 
their hammocks, over which they had suspended certain dainty 
morsels of meat so as to hang close by their mouths, that no 
time might be lost whenever they happened to wake. Their 
power of gorging is really wonderful ; I once was able to 
calculate the amount consumed in thirty-six hours by ten 
men, and found it to be 252 lbs. of smoked fish, 62 lbs. of 
fresh fish, a whole wild hog, and an indefinite quantity of 
cassava bread. 

Before fuD dawn the next morning I was roused by the 
sound of a monotonous chant, varied occasionally by a couple 
of most distressing grunts — 

La, la, caviana, ana, ani, 
La, la, cayiana, ana, ani. 
La, la, caviana, ana, ani, 

Ugh, ugh. 


The singer was Moe, and he explained, pointing to a 
heron, flying high over the river, that the honure, i.e. the 
heron, is a peaiman (a medicine man), who was singing this 
song as he flew. The heron at any rate gains one advantage 
by being a peaiman ; for no Macusi will eat its flesh. 

The Indians, having finished all their meat, now 
announced their intention of waiting while the best hunts- 
man amongst them went to try to get the mother tapir. 
To my great satisfaction this hunter came back empty- 
handed ; for if he had been successful we should have pro- 
bably have had to wait till this new supply of meat had been 

That day was spent in travelling along smooth reaches 
of the river, which are more monotonous, though even there 
the scenery is beautiful. The banks of the river are every- 
where covered by dense forests, which sometimes grow on 
low flat land, sometimes on rocky and undulating slopes, and 
sometimes clothe a solitary mountain or small range of 
mountains up to the very highest rock. But most wonderful 
of all are the views which may be obtained by climbing to 
the top of some of the hills, and looking down on the great 
and wide sea of tree-tops ending only at the circle of the 
horizon, and unbroken except where here and there a long 
narrow thread of white mist, lying along the tree-tops, marks 
the winding course of some small stream. 

As among the feills, innumerable islands, some of consider- 
able extent, stud the river and hide its real width from the eye. 
The beauty of the scenery is in great measure due to the efiect 
of the distant views as seen between the approaching headlands 
of each two of these islands. The traveller from his canoe in 
the centre of a lake-like expanse of still water, in the midst 
of a group of these islands, sees the water flowing toward and 
from him, through many channels, each of which is framed 
by the trees overhanging from two neighbouring islands. 
In the more open reaches of the river, in the dry season, 
when the water is low, banks of bright yellow sand swell up 
from the water, and either form islands, often of veiy con- 


siderable extent, or fill the bays in the curves of the river- 
hanks. Twice in each year, when at the end of each wet 
season these sandbanks show above water, the river turtles, 
which are very numerous, lay their eggs in the sand ; and 
gull-like razor-bills {RhyTichops nigra) make their uncovered 
nests on the sand, and wheel about them incessantly uttering 
their harsh cry. 

One evening we reached a hut on the Paripie creek be- 
longing to some half-bred Brazilian Indians. These people, 
called Nikari-karus, are hybrids between Brazilians and 
Indians of various tribes. Their proper home is on the 
frontier of British and Brazilian territory; and the few 
settled on the Essequibo are deserters from the frontier forts 
and cattle farms, where, at any rate till recently, the labour 
done was forced. Except in two respects the habits of these 
people scarcely diflfer from those of the native Indians of the 
English territory. They make their cassava into farine, in- 
stead of into bread ; and in making their hammocks they use 
coloured cotton, generally blue or yellow, instead of white, and 
the web is more close, and somewhat different from that of 
the ordinary Indian. At Yucarisi, a mile or two beyond 
Paripie, is another of these Brazilian, settlements ; higher up 
the river, at Arinda, is a third ; and there is another on the 
Boopoonooni river near Anahee. These, I believe, are all 

While sleeping in a house at Paripie several of our party 
were sucked by bats. I never could succeed in inducing a 
bat to taste my blood, though men sleeping round and close 
to me have frequently been attacked. These animals are a 
serious trouble to some travellers ; for they seem to have a 
special liking for some people, an abhorrence of others. An 
Indian boy who served me for a short time was nearly bled 
to death by their nightly attacks. No amount of care seemed 
to prevail against them. To keep a light burning, which is 
often said to prevent their attacks, proved useless in his case. 
His parents used to sit up night after night to watch, and 
while they watched the bats never made an attack ; but as 
soon as they fell asleep the bats bit and blood began to flow. 



The bite seems to cause not the slightest pain ; and the 
danger lies, not so much in the quantity of blood sucked by 
the animals, as in that which afterwards flows from the un- 
noticed wound. 

One morning about this time the Indians noticed my 
sponge, and expressed much wonder about it. Moe, as usual, 
put himself forward as spokesman. First he guessed that it 
was a hat; then a bird's-nest; then a shoe. When its use 
was priBU5tically illustrated, the whole company were overcome 
with laughter. 

After passing the mouth of the Potaro river, on which is 
the Kaieteur fall, the men began to hunt for turtles' eggs in 
the sand-banks ; and just before reaching Warrapoota they 
found a considerable number. The Brazilians at Yucarisi 
had given us some of these eggs smoked and dried. But in 
this state, though they keep good a considerable time, they 
cannot be recommended for delicacy of flavour. Now, how- 
ever, that we got them fresh from the nest it was a very 
different matter. Those which we first found were about the 
shape and size of pigeons' eggs, with roughish and very elastic 
shells, or, rather, skins. Another species of turtle, equally 
common in these rivers, lays a much larger and rounder egg. 
Both kinds are boiled ; the albumen is expressed, and the 
yelk, which is then of a buttery consistency, is eaten. These 
eggs are certainly very delicious food. The Indians fully 
appreciate them, and, though they will not touch the egg of 
a fowl, consume these turtle eggs greedily. I have occa- 
sionally seen large canoes literally filled with the eggs 
which Indians have collected. The egg of the iguana lizard 
( Iguana tuberculata) is very similar, and is equally sought 

At Warrapoota cataracts I for the first time saw the rock- 
pictures which form so strange an addition to some of the 
landscapes of this part of South America. A large number 
of somewhat conspicuous figures are engraved on the surfaces 
of a group of granite boulders in the very midst of the 


Camping that evening just above Warrapoota, I was once 
more disturbed by a freak of the Indians in the middle of 
the night. Roused by a moving light, I saw a procession of 
our Indians moving round the camp ; foremost was one 
apparently taking aim with his gun ; behind were others of 
whom each held a blazing palm-branch high over his head. 
To my sleepy remonstrances they replied that they had 
heard an omar ( an evil being) and that they were looking for 
it ; but^ as the tracks showed in the morning, the noise had 
been made by a poor little labba {Oodogenys pdca). 

The next day was memorable. We passed Paiwarikaira, 
a large granite boulder which rests on a slender columnar 
base. It is commonly reported that a certain Dutchman, 
when his countrymen possessed the land, brought a hundred 
slaves to overturn the rock ; but he flailed, and the rock re- 
mains to this day in position, to interest the traveller and to 
awe the passing Indian. No Indian, unless he be a peai- 
man, willingly looks at Paiwarikaira ; for the sight of it is 
followed by misfortune. Heedless of this, and regardless of 
the entreaties of the Indians, I approached, and even touched 
the rock. When, shortly afterwards, it began to rain the 
Indians attributed this solely to my disrespectful treatment 
of Paiwarikaira ; nor, as will presently be shown, was this the 
only evil t£at befel us, as my men said, in consequence. 

Only about two hundred yards higher up the river is 
another rock in which, according to the half-civilised Indians, 
God has shut up a negro, who is not to be let out until for 
one whole year he ceases to swear. His chance of freedom, 
if he is like most of his race, must be small indeed. The 
Indians' hatred of black men is noticeable in this and many 
other circimistances. 

That evening we were stopped for the first time by a fall, 
up which it was impossible to take the loaded canoes ; but 
in the morning they were unloaded, hauled up empty, and 
then reloaded. 

Among our men was a peaiman, or medicine man, who 
about this time gave me some trouble. He used to tie his 



hammock to the same tree to which mine was tied; and 
being, like all Indians, very restless at night, he frequently 
shook and disturbed me. On telling him to move his ham* 
mock he did so with a very bad grace, and when I laughed 
at him, he angrily and somewhat inconsequently told Moe 
that * he was not afraid of us.' Some fresh offence being 
again given to this man, he, once more using Moe as an 
interpreter, remarked that he would kill us all, and even 
mentioned the order in which he would do this. We shortly 
had good reason to remember this remark. 

Misfortunes now began to fall thickly upon us. First, our 
bread was exhausted, and it was with great difficulty that we 
obtained a small fresh supply from one of the few Indian 
settlements on the river. Then sickness appeared among 
us. Moe, owing, not improbably, to his sudden rejection of 
clothes, had been ill for some days. He and another boy, 
named Woijeau, were our cooks. The peaiman, who was 
usually unwilling to do work of any sort, of his own accord 
now undertook to prepare our meals. Soon after, one by 
one, we all became ill, in exactly the order in which the 
peaiman had threatened to kill us. I cannot prove the case 
against the man, but I have little doubt that he intentionally 
caused our illness; the Indians, on the other hand, were 
convinced that the misfortune was due to our disrespectful 
treatment of Paiwarikaira; 

This illness greatly impeded our progress. Fever was 
especially prevalent. As a similar misfortune is very likely 
to attack all travellers in that land, where the days are 
always bumingly hot, the nights, by comparison, bitterly 
cold, and the atmosphere is always saturated with moisture, 
it may not be out of place to say that these attacks, though 
frequent and very troublesome, are but rarely dangerous. 
The traveller of ordinarily good constitution, who leads a 
temperate life, need not fear anjrthing more than great dis- 
comfort. If, on the other hand, his system has been satu- 
rated with alcohol, or broken by other excesses, there is 
considerable danger. To this cause must be attributed the 


fatal consequences which have overtaken more than one of 
those who have travelled in the interior of Gruiana, and which 
have given a reputation for unhealthiness to that country. 
Having carefully examined the history of various unfortunate 
expeditions into the interior, I could, were it not an ungrate- 
ful thing to many still Kving, show that most of the mis- 
fortunes have been due to some form of intemperance- Once 
or twice also, men have gone into the bush when no longer 
young and, unaccustomed to the hardship often unavoidable 
in such a life, these men have been knocked up for life. 

In addition to fever, two other forms of illness — dysentery 
and ophthalmia — both of which at a later time attacked 
members of our party, must be carefully guarded against. 
Ophthalmia is very common indeed among the Indians, 
nearly every individual of whom has weak eyes in conse- 
quence. The disease seems very readily to aflfect travellers, 
its germs being probably conveyed from the eyes of some 
Indians to those of the new comer by the countless tiny flies 
which settle constantly on the eyeball and thus form one of 
the most serious plagues of that country. The form in which 
ophthalmia occurs is extremely severe, and, as I saw in two 
distinct and entirely unconnected cases, affects the brain, in 
the case of white men at least, and produces delirium. But 
on the whole these interior lands are not unhealthy. 

Owing to the illness of so many of our party, and to the 
now complete failure in our supply of provisions, it was with 
great pleasure that, on the fourteenth day after our start from 
Aretaka, we reached the site of an old Dutch settlement at 
Arinda, where a family of half-bred Brazilians have now 
established themselves. 

Some groups of fine coffee-trees, long left untended, 
alone mark the site of the old Dutch settlement entered in 
the map published by Hartzinc in 1770 as *Post Arinda.' It 
was the highest on this river, with the exception of a small 
plantation, probably a branch establishment, of which there 
are still some traces at Ouropocari, some few miles further 
up the river. 




The Dutch had pushed so far up most of the rivers, that 
it seems probable that if the country had been left in their 
hands it would now have been fiilly utilised. But when their 
rule was confined to the comparatively small district of 
Surinam, their interest in the whole of Guiana cooled, and 
the development of the colony received a check from which 
it has not yet begun to recover. Arinda now lies a twelve 
days' journey beyond civilisation, and a group of four Indian 
huts, occupied by Nikari-karus and by some Portuguese 
now alone occupy the place. 

After a three days' stay at Arinda, having got rest and 
provisions, we once more started on our way. After a few 
hours we passed the mouth of a creek, called Haimara-kuroo 
by the Indians, from which a path leads across to the 
Demerara river. Neither the path nor the creek are marked 
in any of the maps of Guiana. The courses of the two 
rivers are almost parallel, and not far apart, and there are 
several of these connecting paths between the two. They 
are made and used by the Indians of the savannah, who go 
by that way to work for short periods on the wood-cutting 
grants of the Demerara river. 

At noon on the second day after leaving Arinda we 
reached the falls at Ouropocari, On the rocks at the side of 
one of the channels of this are some more rock-drawings, 
very similar in character to those at Warrapoota. The 
channels at Ouropocari being often impracticable for loaded 
canoes, there is a portage, or path, along which the Indians 
carry their canoes and their goods separately from the 
bottom to the top of the fall, where they reload their canoes.- 
These portages exist at the side of nearly all the larger falls 
on this river, and are frequently used; but on the less- 
frequented rivers qf Guiana it is often necessary for each 
traveller to make such a portage for himself. This is no 
easy work. The trees have to be felled and the ground 
cleared ; and skids have to be laid at very short distances 
from each other along the whole path. When this has beeik- 
done, the travellers harness themselves by a rope attached to 

•A TIGER.' 23 

the bows of the boat, like a team of horses, and the boat is 
very quickly drawn over. 

At the highest point of this portage-path there is a huge 
boulder, one side of which is most curiously marked by 
regular and deep natural flutings. 

One morning, soon after passing Ouropocari, I was lying 
in high fever under the tent of the canoe, which was passing 
steadily through a wide reach of shallow water in the middle 
of which was a small wooded island* Suddenly the Indians 
began to shout loudly. One who was nearest to me seized 
me by the feet and pulled me out of the tent. We were 
close by the island. From its banks a large jaguar was 
quietly examining us. Almost immediately it left the island, 
and, fording the shallow river, passed across our bows to the 
mainland. Unfortimately the other two canoes were out of 
sight, and I was too miserable and weak to care to use my 
gun. Most unexpectedly one of the Indians found courage 
to fieu^e the beast, and, running close up, shot an arrow into 
it. A shake made the arrow fall out, and with a roar the 
animal sprang into the forest on the mainland and disap- 

That night fever raged yet more strongly in some of our 
party, and it was necessary to rest next day &om wearisome 

In the morning, to amuse themselves, the Indians set 
fire to the trunk of a dead tree which had fallen and leaned 
from the top of the bank, there somewhat high, down to the 
edge of the water. The flames crept along the log and in 
time seized upon the bush on the top of the bank. In this 
way it continued to advance until it was close to our camp. 
Two or three times during the day the Indians were sent to 
beat it down ; which they did with a very bad grace, seeming 
to expect us to stop the mischief which they themselves had 
caused. In the afternoon the fire caught the brushwood 
round the stem of a huge, half-dead mora-tree, and by dusk 
it had cleared a considerable space round this and left the 
mora standing in the centre of a circle of other trees, the 


tops of which all met overhead. Just after dusk a loud roar 
told that the central tree had at last also burst into flame, 
and before long its trunk formed a pillar of fire. This 
was not pleasant, for the tree was some hundred feet high, 
and was not sixty feet from our camp. But we were very 
loth to move ; and so, knowing that a tree generally falls 
towards the nearest space — in this case the river — ^we took 
our chance. The darkness round the circle of the fire, 
intense as it usually is under those gigantic trees, seemed by 
contrast unusually great. The fire burned within a huge 
green dome, formed by the leafage above and around the 
flaming trunk. Each leaf stood out distinctly in the fierce 
glow of the fire. Sparks soon began to fall from the blazing 
centre, and then presently fell in a continuous shower. 
Birds and butterflies, startled from their rest, together with 
moths and bats, darted here and there among the burning 
masses, and sometimes fell into the fire. As the flame 
crept higher and higher up the tree, the roar became louder 
and louder, till suddenly the fire leaped up with a deafening 
noise into the masses of dried leaves overhead. Presently 
a creaking sound was heard, warning that the trunk would 
not stand much longer. But at last the end came with ter- 
rible suddenness, and the creaking sound was lost in a loud 

The noise made by a great tree, as it falls in the silence 
of those forests, is at all times wonderful. It is like the crash 
of thunder followed by the prolonged, hurrying din of a land- 
slip ; but in it there is another awful and indescribable ele- 
ment. And when the sound at last suddenly ceases, it is 
followed by a strangely contrasting silence. But in this case 
the fire added yet more to the grandeur of the efiect. No 
silence came after the tree had fallen ; for the fire blazed 
with renewed fierceness, and almost bellowed, as in triumph, 
among the tops of the surrounding trees. 

The suddenness of the fall startled me, ill and weak as I 
was, out of my hammock more quickly than I ever got out 
of it on any other occasion. But the tree had fallen toward 


the river, and all danger was over. Yet throughout the 
night blazing fragments continued to fall at intervals. 

On the next day we reached the cataracts of Akramukra, 
and, on the day following, those at Bappoo. These latter 
take their name from a kind of bamboo which grows on the 
islands among them, and which is much used by the savan- 
nah Indians for making arrow-heads, which are, we were told, 
as poisonous as those tipped with ourali. I afterwards tried 
one of these rappoo arrows ; but the fowl which was shot 
showed no symptoms of poison; and an Indian who was 
standing by ingenuously remarked that a rappoo arrow is only 
poisonous when it enters far enough into the body. This 
recalls another Indian story. A plant is ssdd to grow some- 
where, a stick from which proves fatal to any living thing at 
which it is pointed. The virtues of this are supposed to have 
been discovered by an Indian woman, who, when suddenly 
attacked by a jaguar, seized the nearest stick to defend her- 
self, and pointed it at the animal, which immediately fell dead. 

These rapids of Eappoo are the last up which we had to 
pass during this particular canoe-journey. The course of the 
Essequibo is smooth from here to some distance beyond the 
junction of the Roopoonooni river, up which we were going. 
The falls above this junction, near the source of the Essequibo, 
are of very great height and difficulty, and present a barrier 
as yet insuperable to travellers who have attempted to pass 
up the higher Essequibo. The Roopoonooni also is free from 
falls from its mouth to beyond the point at which we were to 
leave the river and begin our life on the savannah, at Pirara 

From Rappoo, driven as usual by want of bread, we 
pressed on, and reached Apooterie, a Carib settlement at the 
junction of the Roopoonooni with the Essequibo, the same 
evening. The head man of the place received us hospitably 
into his house. But within an hour of our arrival his wife gave 
birth to twins ; so that, much to the surprise of the Indians, 
we preferred to remove our hammocks to an unfinished 
house which stood in the same clearing. It was used as a 


storehouse for a large quantity of badly dried fish ; and the 
evil smell from this mingled strangely with the sweet scent 
which came in from some blossoming coflFee-trees outside. 

During our two days' stay here the chief amusement was 
afforded by the tanxe animals which, as usual in an Indian' 
settlement, thronged the place. Among these were more 
than a dozen parrots of different kinds, two macaws, two 
trumpet-birds, two troupials, three monkeys, some powis or 
curassow birds, and a sunbird. 

After two days' stay at Apooterie, we started again, and, 
leaving the Essequibo, passed up the Roopoonooni river. The 
water of the latter, unlike the clear, dark-red water of the 
Essequibo, is opaque, and of yellowish-white colour. The 
river is about five hundred yards wide. Its banks are 
wooded, though far less luxuriantly than those of the 
main river. The water, being at that time excestively low, in 
places left much exposed the high, cliflF-like banks of white 
clay, crowned by weather-beaten trees, shrubs, and palms ; 
in other places, long even stretches of water-guava bushes 
(Paidium aromaticum and P. dquaticum), looking like 
English osier-beds, edged the river. The palms, here much 
more numerous than on the Essequibo, gave character to 
the scenery. 

The withered, scrub-like appearance of the vegetation 
was no doubt partly due to the neighbourhood of the savan- 
nah, to which we were now coming near ; but it was also 
doubtless partly due to the abnormal dryness of the previous 
seasons, for when I afterwards passed down this river in the 
high rainy season, the plant growth, at least near the mouth, 
was far more luxuriant, though even then greatly inferior to 
that on the Essequibo. 

During the rsdny season the Roopoonooni presents a very 
different scene. The banks, instead of appearing as clay cliffs, 
are then almost everywhere under water ; so that it is often 
hard to find sufficient dry ground on which to camp. Instead 
of an almost dry river-bed obstructed by many sand ridges, 
with high tree-capped banks, the sand ridges then lie thirty 


feet under water, and the trees, rising directly from the flood 
water, alone mark where the river-banks once were. 

On the first day of our journey up this river, we travelled 
long, and at a fairly rapid rate. But on the second day the 
sandbanks began to cause delay ; and from that point these 
increased so greatly in size and number, often covered only by 
an inch or two of water, and sometimes extending right 
across the river, as to offer a most serious obstacle to our 
progress. It was impossible to float the large and heavily 
loaded canoes over them. Sometimes it was just possible to 
drag them over by main force, as over dry land ; but more 
often it was necessary to dig a channel with the paddles. 
Once we had to wait for six hours to dig a channel through a 
sandbank of not more than three hundred yards in width ; 
and so on some occasions we did not advance a thousand 
yards in the day. These times of waiting were rendered 
almost unendurable by the great abundance of the small 
black kaboori fly, called in the Brazils pium {Simulium)» 
From the Atlantic to the mouth of the Eoopoonooni the 
country is quite free from these terrible little blood-suckers ; 
but on this river they abound, as they do generally westward, 
especially on the rivers of the Amazon system. Wherever 
they settle on the flesh a small round patch of raised skin, 
distended by blood, is formed, and is very sore and trouble- 
some. The naked bodies of the Indians, whose hands were 
occupied with the paddles, and who, therefore, could not pro- 
tect themselves, were so woimded by these insects that it was 
sometimes difficult to detect any sound skin. Where these 
insects occur they are far more annoying than mosquitoes, 
which, abundant and ajmost universally distributed as they 
are on the ooast^land, are only very locally distributed in 
the interior. 

We slowly crept on for some time, but gradually made 
less and less progress each day. The labour of digging 
through the sandbanks and of dragging the canoes over by 
main force began to tell on the Indians, who grew weary and 
disheartened. Cassava bread, which is almost essential to 


their health and comfort, had agai& failed us ; and some of them 
who, like most Indians, had been sleek and fat, suddenly and 
in the course of but a day or two, became so thin that they ' 
looked hardly more than skin and bone. 

One after another — ill, weary, or lazy — our men gave up 
working. One afternoon, when with infinite pains the canoes 
had been got halfway across a sandbank in a wide reach of 
river, the Indians declared they could not and would not 
move further that day ; so we had to wade up the river for 
about a mile until we found camping ground. Then the 
men spoke of a small settlement called Morai, not far from 
where we were. We sent there to get bread, but the mes- 
sengers returned empty-handed. They had found the huts, 
but the people were almost famishing, and gave most ominous 
accounts of the famine which the long-continued drought 
had caused in the savannah. 

The next day the crisis came. We had been creeping 
on, even more slowly than usual, for about two hours, when 
we again stuck on a sandbank,, from which it was declared 
utterly impossible without assistance to move the canoes 
forward or backward. There was nothing to be done but to 
form a camp in the bush and consult as to the next move. 

We were then about a day's walk — the distance by land 
being considerably less than by water — from a considerable 
Macusi settlement called Quartama. Eddington, who was at 
the time the strongest of the party, imdertook to go on to 
this settlement, and there, if possible, to procure fresh crews, 
as well as a supply of provisions. 

Four tedious days we waited. One night, just as dusk 
fell, a tremendous thunderstorm broke over us, and lasted 
some hours. The waterproof sheet which I was using, as a 
protection against the weather was not long enough to cover 
the -scale-lines of my cotton hammock; and these lines 
getting soaked, acted as conductors for the water till the 
whole hammock was saturated. Taught by experience, I 
afterwards found it better to remove the scale-lines from the 
hammock, so as to reduce its length as much as possible and 


make the work of sheltering it more easy. There can be no 
doubt that the hammock is the greatest possible luxury to a 
traveller camping out ; so that any expedient that may add 
to its importance is worthy of notice. Another night a labba 
came and lapped the soup out of a pan which stood actually 
under my hammock and within a foot of my body. These 
animals are often very bold at night, when they occasionally 
even venture into inhabited Indian houses, in quest of any 
scraps of food that may be within their reach. These were 
literally the only events that broke the monotony of that 
dreary time. In the middle of the fifth night. Eddington 
returned with a set of merry, shouting Macusis, very diflFerent 
from the disheartened set who had brought us so far. He 
also brought back an abundant supply of cassava, and the 
welcome news that a further supply would be waiting for us 
at Qnartama. 

We started very hopefully the next day. The new men 
worked splendidly. The character of the country also began 
to change. For some time past a comparatively narrow belt , 
of forest on each side of the river had alone separated us 
from the savannah ; but now even this belt failed in places, 
and the open savannah came down to the river. After 
having been shut up for nearly two months in a dense, damp 
forest, to reach open country, to see a really wide plain, and 
to feel a real breeze, seemed to give new life. So we soon 
reached the ' waterside ' of Quartama. 

The settlement itself, as usual in the savannah region, 
is several miles from the river. But crowds of Macusis soon 
began to come down to us. Luckily the clearing in which 
was our camp was large, for all our visitors brought their 
hammocks and evidently meant to make a night of it. 

The spot was rather pretty. A piece of high ground, in 
the angle formed by the junction of a small creek with the 
Boopoonooni, had been partially cleared, a few scattered trees 
only being left, to which hammocks might be tied. Up 
these single trees multitudes of climbing palms {Desmoncua) 
had crept, and, reaching the top, had there woven their 


tendrils into a dense tangle, so that the place was com- 
pletely roofed over by fretted green palm-leaves and grape- 
like clusters of scarlet palm-fruit. 

The place soon became densely crowded by men, women, 
children, dogs, and poultry ; for many of the Indians had 
brought their whole live stock with them. Under each 
hammock was a fire. The men — a few of them good-looking 
— were loaded with necklaces of the teeth of various animals 
and with beads, tassels of birds' skins, and wore brilliant 
feather crowns. They were generally finely built, and were, 
in short, a fine-looking set. Of the women, two or three of 
the younger were really pretty ; others had spoiled their ap- 
pearance by painting broad streaks of black, moustache-like, 
over their mouths and from ear to ear. But the old women, 
as always among Indians, were really hideous. Almost every 
woman had brought a baby, as well as one or more older 
children. Some mothers carried their babies by placing one 
arm round the child's neck, so that the poor little wretch 
hung suspended against the mother's body; others, more 
careful, carried their babies in tiny hammocks suspended 
from, their shoulders. Babies and children were all perfectly 
naked but for a necklace, which each wore, and a piece of 
twine tied round the body above the hips. Taking a fancy 
to one or two of these necklaces, I began to bargain with the 
mothers for them. One, made of deers' teeth, was really very 
pretty, and another consisted of three magnificent jaguar 
teeth. The mothers, stripping their children of these, their 
only garments, gave them in exchange for red beads ; the poor 
children screamed and bawled till, ashamed of my barbarity, 
I made peace by giving them some beads for themselves. 
In the meantime more Indians continued to arrive, until the 
whole available space was occupied. Each newcomer insisted 
upon shaking hands, a practice which they were told by 
our Own men was customary among white men. 

After this the rest of our canoe journey passed quickly 
and pleasantly. The only drawback was the growing report 
of famine which met us at the settlements, which now 


became more numerous. At Quartama we had certainly 
found abundance, but everywhere else there seemed to be 
great scarcity. Whole settlements ~^ere deserted, and in 
others, where a few old or infirm people remained, nothing 
but the seeds of palms and other plants were eaten. 

The change in the scenery continued and increased. 
The places where the savannah came down to the river 
became more numerous ; and in no place were the two 
separated by more than a very narrow line of trees. In one 
spot a mountain, bare of trees up to its very top and with 
rocks cropping up here and there from the scanty herbage 
on its sides, afforded an entirely new feature in the scenery. 
A mountain, or even a hill, is most interesting in Guiana. 

One evening, landing at a creek called Mopai, we camped 
near a pond full of the splendid flowers and gigantic leaves 
of the royal water-lily ( Victoria regia). Such a scene, in 
the soft and yet intense evening light of the tropics, is 
exquisite beyond description. Round the pond was a wall 
of dark forest. Water-fowl abounded, dainty spur-wings 
{Parra jcbcarui) ran about on the lily leaves, and one of 
these birds had a nest on a leaf; high over head a flight 
of large white cranes {Mycteria americana) passed in Indian 
file to their night's rest. Flocks of vicissi-ducks (-4. au- 
tuTwrudis) rose, flew by, whistling out their name, * vicissi — 
vicissi — vicissi ' ; and, a more practical matter, several fine 
musk-ducks (^A. moschahts) rose, and fell to the guns. 

At last, on the 22nd of March, about midday, we reached 
our destination at Pirara landing, and so came tp the limit of 
our canoe journey, having taken forty-nine days to traverse 
a distance that, under ordinarily favourable circumstances, 
ought to be passed in about twenty. t 




The Savannah — Indian Settlement at Quatata-plndian Visitors — A Back- 
gun — The city of Bl Dorado — Rain after Drought — Start for the Brazils 
— Down the Takootoo — Fort St. Joaquim — Cattle Farms — Homeward — 
Fording Lake Amoocoo — The Rivers in the Rainy Season— A Notorious 
Murderer — Shooting the Falls. 

That night the Indians kept up a great firing of guns to 
attract the people from Quatata and Karanakru, two settle- 
ments respectively nine and fifteen miles distant, across the 
savannah. They were wanted to carry our goods; for our 
own men, when they reached the landing-place, considered 
their duties at an end. At earliest dawn, the shrill sounds 
of Indian music were heard from a distance, and grew louder 
and louder. Then Macusis began to arrive in family parties, 
walking in single file, many of them playing on flutes 
made of the bones of jaguar or deer. In each party the 
men and boys came first, carrjring only their bows and 
arrows ; after these came the women, burdened with the 
hammocks and other chattels of the whole party. As they 
came up to our hut, which was some distance from the water- 
side, the men came in and talked to us, while the women 
stood outside in a shy, laughing group. Presently the whole 
party moved on down to the river, where our baggage was ; 
and when it passed back again, the women were always more 
heavily loaded than the men. This went on at intervals 
throughout the day, and again early the next morning; 
so that eventually there were probably about sixty Macusis 
in all. 

When the last of the goods had been carried off", we 
ourselves started to walk to Quatata, which was to be our 



head-quarters for some months. The undulating savannah 
is chiefly arranged in parallel ridges, hills, and valleys, some- 
times large and sometimes small, rapidly succeeding each 
other. The soil changes often and abruptly ; sometijnes it 
is peaty (pegass), sometimes hard and impregnated with 
iron, sometimes gravelly, sometimes sandy. But whatever 
its nature, the soil, on the hills, is somewhat scantily covered 
by harsh grass, from which rise a few wind-blown, sunburnt 
shrubs. But in the moist valleys, of which some are mere 
strips, lying between the ridges of higher ground, while 
others are vast, perfectly level plains, many miles in extent, 
the grass is high and luxuriant ; and these level plains are 
made beautiful by groups and forests of seta palms {Mauritia 
fiexuo8a\ each with its exquisite crown of green fan leaves 
standing erect above the hanging fringe of older, withered 
leaves. The rising ground is everywhere dotted over with the 
huge nests of ants or termites, from two to ten feet high, 
built of yellow clay, and looking like very pointed haycocks. 
Sometimes, again, but at long intervals, stand palm-thatched, 
domed Indian houses, looking like haystacks. As a back- 
ground to all this, in the far distance, on the right, is the 
Parearaima range, and on the left are the Ganakoo moun- 

At the end of our walk to Quatata, it was not pleasant 

to find that not only food, but water also, was fearfully scarce. 
In ordinary times there is a sufficient supply of the latter in 
a small river which runs past the foot of the hill on which 
Quatata stands. But in this extraordinary season, in one 
pool only was there a little water, thick and milk-white with 
clay, and unpleasantly tainted with iron. 

Quatata stands on high ground, within half a mile of the 
now extinct settlement of Pirara, which forty years ago was ' 
the scene of a dispute between the English and Brazilian 
Governments. A year or two before that event, a Mr. Youd, 
-a clergyman of the Episcopalian Church, had established him- 
self as missionary at Pirara. But the Brazilians, who had at 
times made vague claims to that district, were stirred up by 



a Brazilian priest, Frater Jos^ dos Santos Innocentes, to 
enforce their claim and at the same time to destroy the 
Protestant mission. A Brazilian force was sent from the 
frontier fort of St. Joaquim, and the priest accompanied the 
soldiers. The English missionary retired for a time to 
another station, but a company of English troops being sent 
from Georgetown to reinstate him, he returned to Pirara. 
The English on their arrival threw up an earthwork which 
yet remains to mark the site of Pirara, and, entrenching 
themselves in this, waited for some days. The Brazilians, in 
the meantime, looked on. At last, without coming to blows, 
both parties agreed to retire, leaving the question of the 
ownership of the savannah to be settled by diplomacy. The 
quarrel yet remains at that point. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Youd returned to Pirara, but was once 
more forced to retire, by ill health, caused, say the Indian's, 
by poison ; and before long he died. The Indiansof Pirara, 
disliking the disturbance to which they had been subjected 
by both Brazilians and English, moved away, and no trace 
now remains of the place, except the parts of the mission 
church and the earthwork already mentioned. In its place, 
after a time, Quatata rose. 

This, which is one of the largest settlements on the 
savannah, consists of ten houses, all oval or round. These, 
as always on the savannah, are not mere open sheds, as in 
the forest, but have very thick walls of wattle and mud, 
surmounted by high conical roofs of palm thatch. The very 
cold winds which at night blow across the savannah, have 
probably induced the building of these walls. Another 
distinctive feature of the Indian houses on the savannah, is 
that there are no signs of cultivation round them. 

At first, constant attacks of fever, and the difficulty of 
moving about in a famine-stricken country, prevented our 
undertaking any distant expeditions; but there was very 
much to interest even in the immediate neighbourhood. 

The houses of the Indians were always interesting, and 
the Indians themselves, after a time, and when their reserve 


had somewhat decreased, were sufficiently communicative, 
and sometimes even too hospitable. When we entered a 
house, one of the women generally filled a calabash with pai- 
wari, a liquor, the horrid preparation of which will presently 
be described, from a jar standing somewhere in the dark 
background, and offered it to us. Etiquette demands the 
offer, and etiquette demands that the visitor should finish 
the horrid draught to the last dregs. Intent on establishing 
friendly relations with the people, I often found myself 
obliged to undergo this disagreeable ordeal ; for, after it, 
I was allowed to walk about the house, handle all things, and 
ask any number of questions. 

At other times the Indians used to return our visits, 
coming for the purpose not only from Quatata, but also from 
very distant places. Some came merely from curiosity, 
others came to barter. These levies were often very curious. 
Our goods were spread out on the floor; the Indians, on 
their part, brought provisions, hammocks, tame birds and 
animals, or specimens of their manufactures, dress, and 
ornaments. Often, however, they merely sat for hours, 
speechless, but observing our slightest movements. One 
of the most remarkable visitors came from a part of the 
Canakoo moimtains about fifteen miles distant. Our house 
was built on piles, and a rough ladder gave access to it. 
One morning this man, springing suddenly up the ladder, 
Ftood bolt upright, with his gun in his hand, much in the 
position of a soldier standing at ease. He was short,' sturdy, 
and well-built ; his hair, which, unlike that of his fellow- 
tribesmen, was sliaggy, was bound round with a cotton fillet. 
He was also the only Macusi I ever saw with a defined 
moustache. For nearly an hour he stood without altering 


his position, without moving a muscle, or speaking a word. 
He merely stood and gazed. Then he turned, bolted down 
the steps, and immediately went home. 

Such or our visitors as came often grew accustomed 
to us, and not unfrequently ventured upon jokes. Once 
especially, a party of them being much struck by the hairiness 

i> 2 


of the calves of my legs — their own being entirely hairless — 
one went away and returned with a baby a few weeks old, 
and this child*s head was then held down close to my leg, 
and there were many jeers about the resemblance between 
its scalp and my skin. 

Often the Indians brought their guns to be mended. 
These are mostly cheap weapons, of a most trumpery kind, 
manufactured in England for the trade with savages. But 
that the Indian, careful of such scarce commodities, uses but 
three or four shots and a very small modicum of powder 
to the charge, explosions and consequent injuries to the 
Indians would be the frequent result from the use of these 
guns. How tenderly an Indian uses his gun is well illus- 
trated by the fact that I have known one such weapon used 
for some time after its nipple had been lost and replaced by 
a piece of bent tin cut from a sardine box. 

Just after sunrise sometimes, before the sun was hot, 
I strolled to the brow of the hill on which Quatata stands, 
and there sat down. Below, at my feet, lay a vast and level 
plain covered by just such luxuriant grass and other plants 
of low growth as clothe the small moist patches of higher 
ground. In the far, distance the plain was bounded by the 
ridges of the Pacaraima mountains, which were at that 
moment much hidden by dense white clouds. Gradually 
the masses of these clouds rose, and only a long, rugged, and 
broken line of opaque white mist remained, marking where 
the mountains rose from the plain. Presently the sun began 
to shine with power, and lighted up each jutting fantastic 
point of this low-lying mist, until the whole seemed a city of 
temples and towers, crowned with gilded spires and minarets. 
The level plain at my feet was the so-called Lake Amoocoo 
or Parima, and the glittering cloud city was on the supposed 
site of the fabled golden city of El Dorado or Manoa. 
* Manoa,' as Baleigh wrote of it, * the imperial citie of Guiana, 
which the Spanyardes call El Dorado, that for the greatness 
of its riches, and for the excellent seate, it farre exceedeth 
any of the world ; at least of so much of the world as ia 


knowen to the Spanish nation; it is founded upon a lake 
of salt water of 200 leagues long, like unto Mare Caspium.' 

The so-oalled lake is ahnost throughout the year a dry 
plain, on which lines of seta palms mark the courses of 
streams, the overflowing of which in very wet seasons makes 
the ^ lake.' Even as I looked at it that morning, the last of 
the mist melted, and the city once more went out from my 
sight, as it has from the belief of the world. 

Many other things seen during that time occur to me ; 
and especially the glorious beauty of the mountains on either 
side of us, as they appeared nightly emphasised and coloured 
in the intensely clear evening light. But space sufficient to 
tell more of these matters fails. 

It was also at this time that I put myself in the hands of 
an Indian peaiman, or medicine man, and had experience of 
the method of cure employed by these people ; but of this I 
shall have to give an account at another time. 

For some time after our arrival the famine increased. 
Wherever we went, either the houses were deserted, or the 
people were living on palm-seeds, caterpillars, and ants, and 
we ourselves were often without even a morsel of bread or 
any vegetable food. But just when matters were at the 
worst, and it was almost impossible to get food to support 
life, rain came at last. The effect on the savannah was 
wonderful ; for the very next day it began to look bright and 
green and gay. The gra^s grew as if by magic, and flowers 
grew among it ; especially a beautiful and large pea^flower 
{Clitoria guianenaia. Benth) — lilac-coloured, with a strong 
scent like clove-carnations; a tiny yellow crocus-like lily 
(Hyposda breviacapa ?) flowering close to the ground ; and 
where the grass grew higher, tall white twin lilies (Hippe- 
astrum aolaridroBflorum) lifted their heads. Even the stony 
and more bare places were brightened by large numbers of 
yellow mullein-like flowers ^ByraoniTna verbaacifoUa). The 
greater abundance and pleasanter conditions brought back 
our strength and made it possible to extend our excursions. . 

Early in May Eddington and I started to visit the 


frontier fort of St, Joaquim, in Brazilian territory. In that 
neighbourhood there are large cattle-farms, belonging to the 
Brazilian Government, and I was very anxious to see these. 
We had some little difficulty in getting men to go with us - 
as guides and porters ; for the Indians of the English 
savannah, remembering that not so many years ago the '^ 
Brazilians were in the habit of capturing and enslaving 
them, do not much care to venture across the frontier. The 
difficulty was, however, at last overcome and we started. 

Three days' walking across an almost uninhabited savan- 
nah — sometimes undulating, sometimes a huge, perfectly level 
plain — brought us, after crossing various small rivers, and 
among others the Nappi near its source, to Euwari-mana- 
kuroo, a settlement of Nik^yrj-karu Indians, not far from the 
Takootoo river, which for some distance separates the British 
and Brazilian territories. Here we hoped to get the head 
man of the place, a Nikari-karu nicknamed * Chirura,' or 
* old breeches ' — on account of his wearing clothes — to go 
with us as guide and interpreter. We also wanted to borrow 
a canoe from him in which to descend the Takootoo. In 
both these matters we succeeded ; but we had, as usual, to 
wait some days before we could get Chirura to move. 

Our stay was, however, not unpleasant. The settlement 
of three very large houses, each of which shelters several 
families, stands on the open savannah, on high ground, 
within a mile of the western end of the Canakoo mountains, 
the rugged sides of which are densely clothed with wood. 
Down from the mountains there is a waterfall of considerable 
size, the sound of which reached us in the houses. The people 
of the place are a mixed lot; for among the Nikari-karus 
there were several Macusis, as well as one Piriana, a woman 
indescribably fat, and consequently, especially in her un- ' 
clothed state, inexpressibly ugly. 

Very little is known about the Nikari-karui, who are an 
ill-defined group of hybrids between Brazilian Portuguese 
on the one hand, and Indians, possibly Wapianas, on the 
othert Their language is a much corrupted form of Portu- 


guese, which 9 as we found, when we took Chirara with us 
as interpreter into the Brazils, was almost unintelligible to 
speakers of piire Portuguese. Perhaps the most striking 
. thing about them is the habit, which some of them have 
adopted from various Brazilian tribes of Indians, of filing 
each tooth to a sharp point, thus giving to their faces a most 
savage and hideous expression. Various other peculiarities 
of these people I have alread ymentioned ; but I may here 
add that they also diflFerfrom most other Indians of Guiana in 
their habit of living in large houses, several families together. 
The children at Euwari-manakuroo, perhaps because of 
the European blood in their veins, played and sang in child- 
like ways very unusual among pure-blooded Indians ; and 
the women even joined in the games, which is a still more 
unusual custom. In the evening the women and children 
sometimes caught hold of each other, and holding on one 
behind the other, marched round the house singing and 
dancing. I was especially attracted by one merry little 
fellow of, about five years old, whom I first saw squatting, as 
on the top of a hill, on top of a turtle-shell twice as big as 
himself, with his knees drawn up to his chin, and solemnly 
smoking a long bark cigarette. 

One point of interest in this neighbourhood was the com- 
paratively frequent occurrence of stone hatchets and other 
similar instruments. Stone implements, though no longer 
used in Guiana, are to be found in greater or less abundance 
throughout the district. 

At last, after four days' stay, we gotoflF. The two or three 
people from Euwari-manakuroo who came with us gave their 
wives knotted strings or quippus, each knot representing one 
of the days they expected to be away, and the whole string 
thus forming a calendar to be used by the wives until the 
return of their husbands. 

On going down to Yarewah on the Takootoo, we found the 
two canoes which we had engaged, and from there we once 
more started on a river journey. But now, instead of being 
on a river of the Essequibo system, we were descending the 


water-shed of the Amazon. The Takootoo runs into the 
Rio Branco, that into the Rio Negro, and that into the Ama- 
zon at Manaos. From Yarewah the boundary between the 
Brazilian and British territories passes along the Takootoo, 
until that river is joined by the Cotinga, which flows in from 
the north, and up which the boundary line passes. This is 
the line laid down by the boundary commission under Sir 
Richard Schomburgk about 1840, and is really accepted by 
both nations, in spite of the vague claims which, as I have 
said, have been advanced by the Brazilians to the land be- 
tween the Takootoo and the Roopoonooni. The command- 
ant of St. Joaquim, an educated Brazilian gentleman, and the 
chief resident official on that frontier, in his conversation fully 
recognised the boundary line thus described. I have been 
led to say so much on this subject because this part of the 
boundary is generally wrongly laid down in even the stan- 
dard English atlases ; and it is much tb be desired that this, 
as well as the boundary line between British Guiana and 
Venezuela, should be more correctly represented. 

We paddled gently down the Takootoo, which is a river of 
considerable size, getting an occasional shot at one of the 
many turtles which lay, basking in the sun, on the logs at the 
river-side, or at an ibis as it fed on one of the innumerable 
ridges of sand. The journey led us, for two days, past the 
mouth of the Ireng and Cotinga rivers ; past many flocks of 
beautiful rosy spoonbills ; past porpoises, which our men said 
were omars, or water-women, and * had frocks ; ' past manatees, 
which venture up the Amazon rivers even as far as this ; past 
ugly green iguanas climbing on the trees on shore ; past high 
cliflF-like banks capped with long lines of white UKes {Hippe^ 
(i8trum\ well defined against the sky ; and past long reaches 
of bush-covered banks densely matted with wreaths of pas- 
sion-flowers, at that time heavily loaded with large purple 
blooms. By the third day the river had become consider- 
ably wider, and the Rio Branco appeared before us, the 
Takootoo running into it almost at right angles. On the left, 
in the angle formed by the junction of the two rivers, the 


high bank was crowned by a little stone fort. It was 
St. Joaquim, and our destination. 

This fort was bnilt more than a century ago by the 
Portuguese. It consists merely of a two-roomed house, under 
which is a lock-up, while a rampart surrounds the whole. 
When Schomburgk visited the place about 1840, he foimd a 
Jesuit mission with a chapel and a few houses. But these 
have now disappeared, and the fort and the range of low huts 
serving as soldiers' quarters alone remain. For many years 
past it has barely been kept in repair, and, as it is now per- 
fectly useless as a military station, the Brazilian authorities 
are said to intend abandoning it. It is certainly quite time ; 
the gates are never shut — ^indeed only one of them is left ; 
no sentinel paces the ramparts, no bugle ever sounds. 

The commandant received us most hospitably. He had 
volunteered to serve in this lonely place in the hope of 
seeing something of the Indians, in whom he feels great 
interest; but his nearest white neighbour — for the men 
forming the garrison are all negroes — is many days' journey 
away, and his only communication with the outside world 
is by a steamer which comes up the Rio Negro at very rare 
intervals, or by Indian canoes. He had only been at the fort 
some six months, but was, not unnaturally, already somewhat 
tired of the place. 

After spending a very pleasant day and night with the 
commandant, who gave a most interesting account of the 
farms, supporting many thousand head of cattle, which lie 
round the fort, we turned homeward, intending to visit some 
of these farms on our way. 

The cattle on these farms are left almost entirely to 
nature. The farms were established about the end of the 
last century, but were again destroyed, the cattle being dis- 
persed over the savannah during the revolutionary times. 
When order was restored, the cattle, which had in the 
meantime greatly multiplied, were not all again gathered 
together; the greater number were allowed to roam and 
breed where they pleased. Once a year a certain number 


of the younger of these wild cattle are driven into the 
strongly stockaded pen which forms the central point of 
each of the gigantic farms into which these savannahs are 
divided. These impounded cattle, after being branded, 
are let out every day, but are driven back into the pen at 
night. Every now and then a large number of them are 
taken down the Rio Branco to Manaos, the nearest Brazilian 
town, and are from there distributed along the Amazon. 
Much of the cattle is also slaughtered on the farms ; the 
meat, after being cut into thin slices, is slightly salted and 
dried in the sun, and is then carried down to the Amazon 
and there sold. 

At the central farm of the district resides a Government 
official, who is responsible for all the cattle in his district. 
His only assistants are a very few cowherds, a few of whom 
are Brazilians of a low class, a few are half-bred between 
Brazilians and Indians, but by far the greater number are 
the Indians of the district. Most of the work of these 
herdsmen is done from the back of small but strong horses, 
which, when not in use, roam all but free on the savannah. 
All the food required is {uroduoed on the spot. For meat, 
the men are allowed to kill a certain number of cattle for 
their own use, and the milk, which, however, as always in 
the case of any but thoroughly domesticated cattle, is very 
small in quantity, is at their disposal. Game, especially 
deer, is abundant. Cassava is grown at the principal farms, 
where it is made into farine, a coarse but most excellent 
and nutritive flour, which is distributed twice a month to 
the men of all the farms. Vegetables, such as yams, 
potatoes, and plantains, and fruits are but little grown, 
except in the fields of the Indians, where, however, they 
flourish so well that they might evidently be cultivated with 
advantage elsewhere. 

Some statistics published by the Brazilian Government 
in an account of the country, printed in connection with the 
Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876, afford some idea of the 
profit derived from this industry. 


* Of all the branches of industry, the most profitable, and 
that which has acquired most importance, is the breeding of 

homed cattle Cattle-raising is confided entirely to 

nature ; the breeder does nothing, but receives the profits ; 
the whole labour consists in collecting the cattle now and 
then in proper places, called rodeioa^ in order to mark the 
calves; in this work half-bred Indians are generally em- 
ployed at the low wages of ten dollars a month. 

* An idea may be formed of the importance of this in- 
dustry from official statistics which show that in the year ' 
1873-74, the province of S, Pedro do Rio Grande do Sul 
alone exported 23,860,636 kilograms of jerked beef, of the 
approximate value of 6,000 dollars. 

* The natural breeding of homed cattle in Brazil yields 
considerable profits, not only because the outlay is limited, 
but because the current expenses are small, as will be seen 
by the following demonstration. 

' A meadow of 9,000,000 square metres can easily graze 
1,000 head of cattle, for which two men are sufficient ; these 
are generally known by the name of campeiros (field men), 
or vaquei/roa (cowherds). This number of cattle produces 
generally fifty oxen and as many cows yearly. 

* The .... average value of an ox is 20 dollars, and 
that of a cow is 10 dollars ; the result therefore of the work 
of two herdsmen will be 1,500 dj^lars a year, which is equal 
to, if not more than, the same number of labourers can gain 
in the best plantations. If, however, it be considered that 
prairies most suited to this industry, situated in the interior 
of the provinces, are generally of much less value than the 
lands in the cofiee districts, or those fit for the sugar-<cane ; 
that the price of cattle in the breeding districts is very low ; 
that stock-raising does not require many labourers; and that 
the expense of carrying the produce to market is but small, 
as they are driven there and not carried, — it will be seen that 
in Brazil no industry can be compared to this.' ^ 

* Ths Empire cf Brazil at the Univertal HxhiHHon of 1876 in Fkila* 
detpMOf pp. 264 et $eq. 


Now, as has been said, some 14,000 square miles of these 
savannahs on this side of the upper Takootoo and the Cotinga 
rivers lie within our territory. Probably the only diflFerence 
between the English and the Brazilian plains is that on the 
former high ground and single detached hills are more 
common than on the latter. 

The life of a cattle-farmer on these savannahs would 
surely be not unpleasant to many who can find no work 
nearer home. Food for the cattle is there in abundance ; and 
food for man might at small pains be made equally abundant. 
Cassava, yams, plantains, and fruits flourish. Game, such as 
deer, wild hog, birds, and fish, is plentiful. A certain 
number of the cattle kept would also supply more food. 
Sufficient labour might also be had. There are plenty of 
Indians living in the district, at present idly, but who, as 
they are of the same, or at any rate of kindred, tribes to 
those Indians who do the work on the Brazilian farms, might 
with care and kindness be turned into useful cowherds ; and 
horses, which would be required to drive the half-wild cattle, 
might readily be procured from the Brazilian side of the 

The one real difficulty in the way of the establishment of 
such cattle-&xms is that of getting produce to town. The 
distance between Georgetown and the English savannahs is 
probably about equal to that between Manoas and the most 
remote Brazilian &rm on the Bio Branco and Takootoo ; but 
the rivers on our side of the water-shed, which here practi- 
cally divides the English and Brazilian territories, are more 
rocky and difficult of navigation than those on the other side 
appear to be. This would of course oflFer but little obstacle 
to the conveyance of jerked or otherwise dried or salted 
meat ; but there would be considerable difficulty in getting 
living cattle to town, except during the height of the wet 
season, until either a river-road for large flat-bottomed 
boats, such as those used for cattle-carrying on the Brazilian 
rivers, has been cleared by blasting the rocks in the worst 
of the falls, or until a road has been cut through the bush. 


To make such a road would probably be beyond private en-? 
terprise, unless on a large scale ; but if evert he work of 
* opening up the country ' is seriously undertaken by the 
Government, one of its first acts must be to make one or 
other of these highways. 

Our first halt after leaving St, Joaquim was at the farm 
attached to the fort. It was under the joint charge of a 
rough-looking Venezuelan, and the most highly civilised 
Macusi I ever saw ; and these two were assisted by the son 
of the latter, who, in that he spoke both Macusi and Portu- 
guese fluently, seemed to share the intelligence of his father, 
but, in that his teeth were filed and painted after the Indian 
manner, seemed not entirely to have rejected barbarism. 

We were in great want both of meat and farine, both of 
which we had hoped to procure at this place, so that it was 
not pleasant to hear that neither were at the moment to be 
had. However, our oflFer of gunpowder, shot, and caps in- 
duced the Macusi to bring a small quantity of farine, and 
shortly afterwards the Venezuelan oflFered to sell us one or 
more head of cattle. This oflFer was at once accepted, and 
the price for a young bull was fixed at three-quarters of a 
pound of gunpowder. 

Both the farm-keepers at once made preparations to 
drive the cattle into one of the two huge wooden pens or 
corrals which were before us. Each slung his whip, the 
whole of which, handle and lash, was formed of one long 
piece of plaited raw hide, round his right hand, and mount- 
ing on* his horse, which stood by, ready equipped with a high 
wooden Spanish saddle, rode oflT; and we were left to smoke and 
look at the scene. But for the hut against which we leaned, 
and the two corrals, on the rails of which were perched many 
expectant vultures, the scene might have been on any un- 
inhabited part of the savannah. There was the same scanty 
grass growing from a pebbly soil, among which many small 
boulders were scattered here and there; there were the 
same scattered, wiry-looking bushes ; and in the distance 
there was the not unusual background of mountains. It 


was, by the way, from a place called by the Indians Toucana, 
somewhere among these mountains, that I got many speci- 
mens of stone axe-heads, and I was assured by the Indians 
that they abound there. 

When we were tired of this scene we went into the hut, 
which we found occupied by two Macusi women. One of 
these was a girl of the usual type, but the other was the 
oldest-looking Indian I evej saw. Her very scan tjr hair was 
of the dirty^ey colour to which, instead of to white, the 
hair of an Indian turns in old age. Her only clothing was 
the usual queyu, a small bead-apron. WTien the girl oflFered 
me some farine boiled in milk, the old lady got angry, and, 
managing to get out of her hammock, tottered towards us 
with the help of a large stick. But the milk and farine were 
very good to one who had fered but poorly for some time, 
and I ate it in spite of the protest. 

The sound of the stamping of many feet now told that 
the cattle were near, and this grew louder and louder until, 
at last, herds of cattle, varying only in colour from dun to 
black, came awkwardly galloping from several points, tum- 
bling and bellowing out from among the bushes. The 
animals were cleverly kept together by the mounted drivers, 
and in a very few minutes four hundred head of cattle were 
penned in one corral, only just large enough to hold the num- 
ber. The ungainly movements of a crowd of our own domestic 
cattle, even when these are driven or are otherwise frightened, 
can give no idea of the frantic convulsions moving this 
mass of half-wild animals. The noise, too, was deafening. 
The drivers now dismounted, and the Venezuelan, appa- 
rently without the slightest trouble, threw his plaited lasso 
of raw hide over the horns of a fine young black bull, which 
had been selected, and which was then dra¥m out of the 
surging mass of its companions. The poor beast was very 
quickly pole-axed and then stabbed to the heart. This quick 
manner of inflicting death is, I am afraid, not always prac- 
tised on these farms, where they say the meat cannot be 
tender unless the animal has been bled to death. 


By the time this was over it was too late to go farther 
that day, so we slung our hammocks in an empty house by 
the side -of the river. All through that night fires, above 
which were babracots loaded with beef, burned, but, as never 
happened on any other occasion when there was meat in 
prospect, I had hard work to make the Indians keep up the 
fires ; 'for these people will not eat beef. 

, The next day "we started at a Jate hour, and the current 
running very strongly against us, it was not till poon on the 
following day that we reached Anaikim or, as the Portuguese 
call it, St. Anton, the highest farm on the Takootoo, occupy- 
ing the angle formed by the junction of that river and the 
Cotinga. The farm is very similar to the one already de- 
scribed but that the house, of wattle-work and with a gallery, 
is of a much better kind and is situated a long distance from 
the river. There is, however, an abundant supply of water at 
hand in a curious series of long ponds, which look like traces 
of a former course of the Cotinga river. The farm is kept 
by three young Brazilians, of a very superior class to the men 
of the Fort Farm ; even one of these, however, had his teeth 
filed to points. 

I am inclined to think that it was on this farm that an 
earlier traveller ' saw, as he thought, herds of wild cattle. It 
was certainly in this neighbourhood that these cattle were 
seen; and as that writer does not mention the farm of 
Anaikim it is probable that he did not know of its existence. 
The cattle roam far and, as has been said, almost free, and 
even, when the water is low, they wade across the Cotinga 
and have to be /reclaimed by their Brazilian owners from 
English territory. That a traveller, who chanced to see such 
cattle in a neighbourhood where he knew of no farm, should 
think that the beasts were wild was not an unnatural mis- 

For many days it had rained incessantly, and as we were 
generally without shelter by day or night, we were most 
anxious to get back to Quatata as quickly as possible. 
' C. B. Brown, Ctmoe and Camp Life in Britiih Gviana, London, 1870. 


Travelling once more up the Takootoo we reached the mouth 
of the Ireng or Mahoo river, and turned up this, purposing to 
force our way home up the Pirara, a small river, then much 
swollen by rains, which rises not far from Quatata, and runs 
into the Ireng about one day's journey above the point at 
which that river joins the Takootoo. The Pirara, therefore, if 
its waters were high enough to allow the passage of our 
canoe, would afford a much nearer road to Quatata than that 
by which we had come. 

The rain gave occasion to some amusing conduct on the 
part of the Indians. Some of them had become the proud 
possessors of some old clothes, such as shirts and trousers. 
Whenever rain began to fall they carefully took them off to 
put them under shelter. But in the crowded state of our 
canoe it was somewhat difficult to find a dry place for them. 
The matter was finally arranged by one of the Indians keep- 
ing on his shirt and allowing the tail to hang loose from the 
bench on which he sat paddling, while the other clothes 
were put under the shelter of this tail. 

The Ireng as we turned into it was in high flood, and the 
current which met us was so strong that we made but slow 
progress. Every now and then the branch of a tree or a log 
swept by us, hurried along by the swift, steady flow of the 
water. Once the whole trunk of a dead tree, torn away firom 
the bank, met us ; two or three of the main branches re- 
main'^d standing straight up from the water ; a turtle lay on 
the trunk. As it sailed quickly past us it looked like a 
wrecked ship ; the branches seemed masts madly zigzagging 
in all directions, and the turtle represented the last survivor 
o^ the crew. 

That night we camped, in mosquito-haunted ground, just 
below the mouth of the Pirara ; and early the next morning 
we entered that river. The water in the Pirara had risen 
above the low banks, and the narrow belt of trees which 
generally separates the river from the savannah now rose 
firom the flood. As there was, therefore, little current, we 
advanced rapidly. At noon on the day on which we entered 


the river we reached a point which, according to the Indians, 
was the highest to which a canoe could at the time pass. It 
afterwards appeared that we might have kept to the river 
much longer ; but, believing the Indians, we disembarked, 
and walked the rest of the journey. Our way led across the 
bed of Lake Amoocoo. This, as I have said, is usually dry ; 
but now we found that the water was out, and that for once 
the lake was a lake. For long distances we had to wade 
through water up to our waists, and often up to our necks. 
Had anyone been there to see we must have presented an 
odd appearance ; as regards myself, all that was visible above 
water was my face and two arms, holding up some Indian 
featherwork which I had bought, tobacco and a pipe, and 
some papers which it was important to keep dry. I was 
much struck by the way in which the Indians managed to 
follow the path, which, even when there is no water, is hardly 
discernible to an unpractised eye, and which now was com- 
pletely hidden under a sheet of water ; yet we emerged from 
the flood exactly where the track led out. But before this, 
when we came to the deepest part of the flood, the Indians 
became frightened, as they generally are in water, though 
they can swim like fishes, and it was hard work to persuade 
them to advance. At last we came to higher and therefore 
dry ground, and after a twelve miles' walk came to Quatata. 
Only those who have had a like experience can imagine 
the comfort of that first night spent under a dry roof, 
with a comparative sufSciency of food, after a fortnight of 
almost constant exposure to heavy rain, with an empty 
stomach. Sain fell all night, and there was much thimder ; 
the sounds of these added greatly, if on somewhat imagina- 
tive grounds, to our comfort. 

June came, and it was quite time to be thinking of 
returning to Georgetown ; but at first it seemed almost im- 
possible to get Indians or to get possession of our canoes. The 
Indians were very unwilling to go with us, partly because 
food was still so scarce that we could expect only scanty 
rations on the journey, and partly, as they said, because a 


party of English soldiers were on their way up from George- 
town to capture and press Indians as soldiers. The same 
rumour has been heard by nearly every traveller in the 
interior ; it is probably due to a half-remembered tradition 
of the slave-hunting expeditions which the Brazilians, as 
lately as forty years ago, used frequently to make among 
these people, mingled with other traditions of the visit of Eng- 
lish soldiers to Pirara in 1840. Whatever the origin of the 
rumour, it is a constant excuse used by the Indians when they 
are unwilling tb undertake the fatigue of a journey. The 
other diflBculty which delayed our immediate return to the 
coast, was that some strange Indians had carried oflF my 
canoe from the waterside. Indians have a large, but occa- 
sionally inconvenient, code of hospitality. An Indian thinks 
nothing of walking into the house of any other Indian of the 
same tribe and appropriating the food which may be in it ; 
nor do the owners in any way resent this. In the same way, 
wh^n an Indian, in his frequent wanderings, finds a canoe in 
a convenient spot he takes it and leaves it wherever his own 
journey happens to end; rumour, passed from Indian to 
Indian, at last tells the owner of the craft as to the where- 
abouts of his property, and if he wants it he must fetch it 
back himself, or must wait till some other chance Indian, 
travelling, brings it back into the neighbourhood from which 
it was taken. In this way my canoe was out of reach just 
when I most wanted it, and the Indians who had removed it 
were surprised by my objecting to this conduct. However, 
at last we were ready to start ; and very severe ophthalmia 
having broken out among the Indians and even attacked 
my two companions, everything urged speedy departure. 

The Indians of Quatata carried all our goods down to the 
river-side, and though this work occupied two days, they 
wanted no payment. At Pirara landing all but those of our 
own crew said good-bye to us. 

It was in the very middle of the long rainy season, so 
that the currents in the river swept us down very rapidly. 
At night it was often very difficult to find dry ground on 


which to camp, and even when in the evening we slung our 
hammocka over dry land we sometimes found ourselves over 
water when we awoke in the morning, so rapidly was the 
water still rising. The creepers which festooned the trees 
on the banks were in most brilliant and full flower. It waS 
one of the rare occasions on which I saw anything of that 
splendour of flower which dwellers in colder climates some- 
times suppose to be characteristic of and universal in the 

At Apooterie, at the junction of the Eoopoonooni with the 
Essequibo we were delayed some days while bread was being 
made. Joseph, our old Carib friend and host, had removed 
his settlement te a point some hundred yards lower down the 
river. The two houses stood, as usual, in a small circular 
clearing in the forest. One evening during our stay here 
there was a most magnificent sterm. Just before dusk the 
sky over the clearing was bright and cloudless ; suddenly 
the sound of a sterm sweeping over the forest from far away 
was heard, travelling quickly toward us. The parrots began 
te scream and the Indians busied themselves in fetehing in 
their bread, which had been out all day in the sun. A long 
thread of white cloud began te appear over the teps of the 
trees to the north, and then swept on with terrific speed over 
the whole round tract of sky, drawing up behind it an in- 
tensely ink-bladk cloud-curtain; in hardly more than a 
moment this blackness had spread over the whole sky, and 
night was upon us. These sudden sterms were always ac- 
companied by one unbroken, mighty blast of wind, followed 
by much thunder and lightning. The efifect was marvellous. 
Hearing that there was a chance of getting some cassava 
from an Indian living in the forest some two miles from 
Apooterie, I, with one Indian, started in a woodskin or bark 
canoe to find this man. He was a notorious Wapiana, who, 
having killed his father and mother and some other people, 
had found it advisable to settle in a remote place and diffi- 
cult of access. Certainly he had found such a place. Going 
for a short distance down the Essequibo we passed into a 

B 2 


creek which, instead of miming into the main river, receives 
a tremendous rush of water from that river. Our poor 
little piece of bark was whirled by the water into this place 
with terrific force, and in a moment we were some distance 
down the creek, which is very narrow and winding, and is 
choked by miany trees. It was very difficult to keep our 
canoe from being dashed to pieces. Then, pushing aside 
some bushes at the side of the creek, we passed on to a 
swamp covered with shallow water and thickly set with trees ; 
and, after winding in and out among these in the most sur- 
prising way, we suddenly emerged on to a large and still lake 
in the centre of a palm forest. Following this for about a 
mile we reached a landing place, where we disembarked. ' 
The lake is very long and, as I believe, receives at its upper 
end the creek through which we had passed from the 
Essequibo, and discharges water at its lower end through 
another creek into the main river. Such side-streams, or 
itaboos, as they are called by the Indians, are not un- 
common in Guiana. After walking from the lake for some 
distance through the forest we at last reached a field where 
we found the assassin living in a tiny hut alone with a young 
and pretty wife and a baby. The assassin was gentle 
enough in appearance, and the only thing remarkable about 
him was the enormous size of the plate of silver which he 
wore, as other Indians do similar but smaller plates, sus- 
pended from his nose. This ornament was so large as en- 
tirely to overhang his mouth, so that when he drank he had 
to lift it with one hand while he tilt-ed the drinking vessel 
with the other. He supplied me with so much cassava that, 
returning to Apooterie that day, we were able to continue our 
journey on the next. 

On the high flood we passed for a time between banks 
thickly festooned with creepers, which were then in most 
brilliant and full flower ; for at the beginning of the rainy 
season these plants all bloom. 

We soon reached Sappoo, and below that had to main- 
tain an almost constant struggle with falls. Every morning 


the Indians rubbed red peppers or lime-juice into their eyes, 
after which they were ready to shoot the falls. 

During the high ndns the falls are very difficult to pass, 
and long reaches of the river are transformed into vast rapids, 
through which the Indians steer their canoes with perfectly 
marvellous skill. Shooting a big fall, or running down a 
rapid of any size, is certainly exciting work. The canoe 
floats in smooth water at the top, and from there the bow- 
man and steersman examine the fall and agree as to the 
particular coiu'se to be taken ; this once decided, the rush 
begins. Suddenly the canoe, guided into the eddying, rush- 
ing water, bounds forward ; it perhaps rushes straight towards 
some threatening sunken rock, but one strong, swift turn of 
the bowman's paddle saves it from that danger ; it rushes on 
again, turned here and there by waves and contrary currents, 
the bowman and steersman contriving to guide it, until in 
its headlong rush it in some way reaches smooth water at the 

It is difficult to find words to convey a picture of such a 
rapid or flood to one who has never seen any of the great 
rivers of South America. It is no ordinary river falling down 
a step of rocks, but a great and wide sea of contending waves 
and currents, surging and breaking in most chaotic confusion 
in, over, and rotmd countless rocks and obstructions. 

Sometimes, however, as happened to us on this occasion 
at Etannime, the main fall is too high and too rough to 
make it safe to shoot it. There are generally side channels 
(itaboos) to all these falls, and Etannime was no exception, so 
we made up our minds to lower the canoes down one of these. 
A rope was fastened to the bow of the canoe, and some of 
the men, standing on the bank, firmly held the other end of 
this. Then the canoe was allowed to glide stem foremost 
down into the narrow, rushing channel. This is a rapid of 
some two miles in length but hardly ten yards in width, down 
which the water rushes fast and foaming, in and out among 
thick, overhanging trees, and round comers, and down low, 
but abrupt fiedls. As soon as, by slow paying out of the bow 


line, the canoe had been safely lowered down the first of the 
short reaches, those who were on board kept her in position 
by holding fast to the overhanging tree-trunks and branches, 
while those on shore dropped the rope, and then hurried 
through the bush to a point commanding the next reach, 
down which, as soon as they had again grasped the rope, the 
canoe was allowed to ^irift. In this way most of the reaches 
were passed ; but sometimes the course of the channel was 
so crooked and rocky that it was impossible to pay out the 
rope from the shore. In these latter cases all got into the 
canoe, which was then allowed to hurry down the turning 
rapid, and was fended from the rocky banks as well as might 
be, with poles and much grasping of overhanging trees. So 
we got to the bottom of Etannime falls. It was very tedious 
work, but far safer than shooting the main fall. 

Shooting the falls was a frequent and most exciting event 
during our downward journey, but once we had a diflPerent 
excitement. Early one morning, having started before dawn 
we reached the place where the Potaro river joins the Esse- 
quibo in a large lake-like expanse, which looked even more 
than usually beautiful in the wonderfully clear morning 
light. Suddenly my bowman got excited, and standing up, 
shading his eyes with his hand, gazed steadily at a line of 
white foam in the far distance. Presently he uttered the 
word * whinga,' and the next moment, he and the other 
Indians, bending to their paddles as I never saw them do 
before, the canoe shot rapidly over the perfectly smooth water 
towards the line of foam. Whinga is the Macusi name for 
that sort of bush-hog, or peccary, which lives in large herds 
{Dicotylea IcMatus) ; and one of these herds was now swim- 
ming the river. While the men worked with a will at the 
paddles, I looked to all the guns, and then stood up and 
watched the herd as it neared the shore. • The race was 
for more than two miles, and the hogs won. No sooner, 
however, had the bow of our canoe touched the shore at the 
point where the beasts had disappeared, than everyone was 
out and alter them, with gun or bow and arrows. The forest 


was alive with the sound of men crushing through the brush- 
wood, an(f with the grunts and squeals of the pigs. Pre- 
sently, finding the .bush too dense for a man with clothes, 
I turned back to the canoe, and after a time the men 
dropped in one by one bringing their prey. I can safely 
affirm that sucking * whinga,' roasted, is as good meat as can 
be had anywhere. 

Such herds as these not unfirequently cross the rivers in 
their journeys. If they come to the river-side at night they 
wait grunting on the bank till dawn. As soon as it is light 
the whole herd plunges into the water and makes for the 
opposite shore. They are very_e5.aily killed when in the 
water, and their crossing ofiFers a splendid opportunity to one 
whose larder wants replenishing. In one case, I heard of 
one single man killing fifty hogs out of a herd which was 
crossing the Mazeruni just below the Penal Settlement. On 
another occasion some negroes were taking a timber punt up 
towards the Monkey Jump on the Essequibo, when, just be- 
fore they reached that point, a herd of bush-hogs crossed 
in firont of them. There was no gun in the punt, nor was 
there a small boat from which to attack the animals ; but 
one of the men, a splendid swimmer named Sassington, . 
plunged into the water, carrying with him one end of a rope 
of which the other end was attached to the punt. He 
managed to tie the rope to the legs of six of the hogs, and 
then, scrambling back into the punt, hauled in his prey. 

At last all the adventures of the expedition were over, 
and we reached Georgetown after an absence of six months 
from the civilised world. 





The Kaieteur Fall— First Visit— The Potaro River— Amootoo Cataract— 
The Kaieteur Ravine— To the Boot of the Fall— The Kaieteur, in Dry 
Weather, from above — The Kaieteur Savannah — A New Plant {Brocchi- 
nia cordylinmdet. Baker ?) — A new bird (^AgeUsus imthumi, Sclater) — A 
Second Visit to the Kaieteur — Beautiful Flowers — Portaging the Boat 
— The Kaieteur Fall, from above, in the Rainy Season — The Best Way 
to Visit the Fall — Roraima. 

The two most interesting natural features in the interior of 
Guiana, those which have attracted most attention from the 
outside world, are the Kaieteur fall and the mountain called 
Boraima. Some account of these is therefore necessary. 
Unfortunately I can write only of the former from personal 
experience, and, as regards Boraima, must trust to the ac- 
counts of the three or four travellers who, unlike myself, 
have had the good fortune to visit it. 

The existence of the Kaieteur fall was unknown till 1871, 
when it was discovered and described by Mr. C. Barrington 
Brown, who was at the time engaged in making a geological 
survey of the colony. It is formed by the fall of the river 
Potaro, » a tributary of the Essequibo, over an abrupt cliflF of 
741 feet. The width of the fall at times of high water, is 
370 feet ; while at low water it decreases to rather less than 
half that width. 

Compared with some other falls the Kaieteur is 
small; for while it ranks far below the Yosemite both in 
height and width, it fells far short of Niagara in width 
though it exceeds it in height. But as regards the sur.- 
rounding scenery it is impossible to believe that even the 
scenery of the Yosemite can exceed that of the Kaieteur ; 



and that round Niagara is, now at least, notoriously com- 
motipliU^e. It is,' in fact, the marvellous surroundings com- 
bined with the magnitude, which 'should make the magnifi- 
cence 'of the Kaieteur; : ) 

In the ten years since its existence was. first- made 
Imown, the Kaieteur has" but» seldom been visited.' The dis- 
coverer, accompanied by some other, travellers, paid a second 
'visit to it within a few months. : But. between that time and 
1 878 it was seen by white men only on' four occasions. In 
the last-mentioned year, and' again in the following year,- 1 
was able to visit it twice, seeipg it on the first of these oc- 
casions during a very dry season, and on the second during a 
very wet season. 

Leaving Georgetown on the 13th of October 1878, we 
passed up the Essequibo — a journey up which I have already 
described, as far as the mouth of the Potaro river. On the 
sixth day we reached Toomatoomari cataract, some eight miles 
up the Potaro. This place is indescribably lovely. A large 
land-locked bay is filled with groups of trees, with bright 
yeUow sand in smooth stretches and in sloping banks, with 
rock's, with pools of still water ; and at the upper end is a 
low but broad foaming cataract. It was Saturday evening, 
and we determined to spend the whole of the next day tUere, 
for the large canoe could go no further, and we had to select 
from our stores what seemed absolutely necessary for our 
further journey, which would have to be in the boat and a 
-woodskin purchased firom some passing Ackawoi. 

The next morning when I awoke I found that the tree, 
of a genus (JEugenia) new to me, to which one end of my 
hammock was tied, had burst into a marvellous sheet of pure 
white blossom. The branches touched the ground. Dense 
masses of its tiny feathery flowers, nestling along each branch 
and branchlet, made the whole look as if weighed down 
with snow. Its scent filled the air, and had attracted a 
-host of humming-birds, butterflies, and bees, filling the air 
with their murmur. Sight, scent, and sound were equally 


Early next morning, having hauled onr boat up the 
cataract on the previous evening, and leaving four men in 
charge of the canoe and the surplus stores, we walked along 
the portage path past the cataract ; and thirteen of us em- 
barked for our further journey. 

Toomatoomari cataract is one of the gates of Fairyland. 
Beyond it the scenery of the Potaro, at least when the river 
is low, is one constantly changing beautiful picture, and far 
surpasses that of any other river I have seen in Guiana. It 
is in times of low water, when the rocks are imcovered, that 
the rivers of this country are seen to best advantage. This 
river of wonderfully clear wine-red water is about three hun- 
dred yards wide, and flows among single rocks and islands of 
rocks, confusedly piled, some large, some small, some water- 
worn into flutings so regular that it is difficult to remember 
that they are not fragments of huge masonry ; some so regu- 
larly square that they look as if cut by a Norman builder ; 
some rounded like the boulders of our English downs ; some 
of every conceiyable shape and fracture ; all heaped on each 
other in most chaotic confusion. The gaps between the jut- 
ting points of the rock-islands are filled by banks of clean 
bright sand sloping gently into the water. Wherever the 
sand met the water on the edges of these banks, great troops 
of yellow, white, or blue butterflies were clustering to suck 
the moisture. The river-banks, thickly wooded as on every 
other river of Gruiana, are here rounded into many hills and 
slopes, between each two of which one of innumerable small 
streams runs down into the main stream. 

The first day from Toomatoomari, spent in an untented 
boat, on level water, and under a hot sun, was somewhat 
trying, and was the one hardship which we had to endure 
during the whole expedition. In the afternoon we passed 
the mouth of the Cooriebrong river, then very low. Oppo- 
site to the mouth of this river, on the left bank of the Potaro, 
was a newly built Ackawoi settlement, then temporarily de- 
serted. This was the first of majiy new settlements which we 
passed ; for it seemed that the Ackawoi were begmning to 



populate the banks of the Potaro thickly. We were surprised 
to find that all the settlements we passed were deserted. 

Towards night we reached the first rapids at Chowrah ; 
and fix)m that point up to the Kaieteur, the reaches of 
smooth water between the rapids, cataracts, or falls were but 
short. By the side of Chowrah rapid we settled down for 
the night, that our men might have a chance of shooting 
some of the blood-red pacu {Pacu myletea) which flitted 
about in the clear shallow water. 

Next day, after passing a few other small rapids, we came 
to Mowraseema cataract. Here we had to unload the boat, 
and carry it and the goods along a rocky island which 
divides the river. This portage was short. 

A short reach of smooth water, broken here and there by 
rapids, now small, but past one of which it is necessary to 
portage in times of high water, led to the bottom of a series 
of three cataracts and one fall at Pacoutout. 

This is the only really diflBcult portage on the river. It 
is generally necessary to drag the boats and goods up, over, 
and down a very steep hill covered with thick forest, for 
a distance of over two-thirds of a mile. Our Arawaks 
wished to do the same now, though they admitted that, as 
roUers would have to be cut and laid along the whole path, 
the work would take a day and a half. Moreover the diffi- 
culty of the portage had recently been much increased, 
owing to the fisict that some Ackawoi Indians, having lately 
made a settlement in these parts, had chosen to make their 
cassava field over a considerable part of the path, which was, 
consequently, almost entirely blocked up by the trunks of 
felled trees. Dreading the difficulty and delay, and consider- 
ing the somewhat low state of the water, we determined to 
haul the boat up the river, and carry only the goods across* 
The more adventurous Caribs agreeing in our plan, the 
Arawaks were at last persuaded to help; and both boat 
and woodskin were without very much difficulty dragged up 
the falls to the higher end of the portage-path that same 
evening, thus avoiding a delay of two days. Above the 


portage the first beautiful view of the sandstone range of the 
Kaieteur appeared, framed in trees, and with the river, thickly 
blocked with tangled masses of a peculiar sedge {Garex^ 
nov. sp.), as a foreground. 

Early next morning we passed another newly formed 
Ackawoi settlement, about a quarter of a mile above Pacou- 
tout fall. It also was deserted. A few hours later we came 
to yet another new settlement, this time a. very large one, at 
the mouth of the Aykooroo creek. As we drew near this, a 
most unusually large crowd of Indians came down to the 
water-side to meet us. Some were almost covered up in 
long loose folds of coloiured calico ; some were dressed from 
head to foot in pahn-leaves ; some, naked but for the usual lap, 
had painted their whole bodies with most elaborate patterns ; 
others had all sorts of quaint ornaments in most marvellous 
variety. All were somewhat the worse for paiwari. A great 
paiwari feast had been begun here on the previous day and 
was to continue for several days more. There were at least 
two hundred men, women, and children present, each one of 
whom, down to the youngest babies, instigated by their 
mothers, insisted on shaking our hands. The deserted state 
of the settlements lower down the . river was now fully 
accounted for. 

On reaching the captain's house we found the centre of 
it occupied by three or four large troughs of paiwari, round 
which a long procession of Indians, men and women, each 
provided with some variety of drum or rattle, was moving. 
Each individual was stamping in monotonous time with his 
feet ; each was keeping up the usual fearfuUy monotonous 
chant, Hia-Hia-Hia-Hia. 

That' same afternoon we came to Amootoo fall and 
cataract* It seemed as if the beauty of the scenery in- 
creased as we advanced. As we paddled up a straight river- 
reach, a dome-shaped, wooded island lay before us in the 
centre of the foreground, dividing the river into two chan- 
nels. On one side of this island a large cataract, some 
twelve feet in height, fell foaming down the violet-brown 



sandstone rocks to where, in the water below, the feathery 
leaves of a water-weed (Zkujw), dotted with its small, pink 
flowers, formed green and pink cushions ; on the other side, 
a magnificent perpendicular wall about fifteen feet in height' 
of the . same sandstone ledges, then dry, marked where . in; 
the time of high rains the water falls down into the black- 
pool of the second channel; The wooded undulating baiiks 
curved towards us firom the cataract on the left and firom the 
fall on the right, forming a complete amphitheatre, behind, 
which, in the distance, towered precipitous sandstone moun-. 
tains, most quaint in outline, and tree-covered except 
on the most abrupt faces of the gray-brown rocks. Behind 
us lay the granite formation ; in firont was all sandstone. 

We were obliged to carry our boat across the portage, 
which. is about a quarter of a mile long, up and then down 
a very considerable hill. Our men laid rollers all along the 
path, then harnessed themselves, by a rope attached to the 
bows of the boat, like a team of horses, and drew the boat 
merrily over in a very short time. 

Here, at Amootoo, we passed between two high hills into the . 
ravine of the Kaieteur. From Toomatoomari to this point 
the valley of the Potaro passes through undulating, but com- 
paratively level, forest-covered country. At Amootoo this 
pl^n is crossed at right angles to the bed of the river by an 
abrupt sandstone clifiF, 700 or 800 feet in height, from the 
top of which a plateau runs back. Through this high plateau 
the Potaro has cut for itself a ravine, which extends firom 
the Kaieteur to Amootoo, where it bursts through .the cliif 
into the general plain of the lower region. In journeying up 
this river, therefore, one passes first through forest country 
but little above the level of. the sea, then, at 'Amootoo, • 
into. the Kaieteur ravine,' having the high, mountainous 
cliffs of the upper .plateau on either hand; this ravine ends 
in a complete amphitheatre at the great &11 itself; .Into, 
this amphitheatre the column of water drops down fi-om the 
plateau, which stiU further firom the sea is shut in by distant 


It was at Amootoo— that is, on first entering the Kaieteur 
ravine — that we reached the most beautiful scenery of that 
beautiful riyer. If the whole valley of the Potarg is Fairy- 
land, then the Kaieteur ravine is the penetralia of Fairyland. 
Here, owing to the moisture-collecting nature of the sand- 
stone rock, the green of the plant-world seemed yet greener 
and more varied. Under the thick shade countless stream- 
lets trickled over little ledges of rock among pigmy forests 
of filmy ferns and mosses. The small plume-like tufts of 
these ferns, each formed of many half-transparent fironds of 
a dark cool-looking green colour, were exquisite. Larger^ 
ferns, with a crowd of aroids, orchids and other plants, 
covered the rocks between these streams in new and marvel- 
lous luxuriance. Several curious forms of leafless, white- 
stalked parasitic gentians ( Voyria\ one yellow, others white, 
and one violet, were especially noticeable. 

On either side rose the tall, grand clifiFs which form the 
sides of the ravine. The sandstone plateau of which they 
are the edge, extends firom this to Roraima. The appearance 
of the perpendicular tree-crowned cliffs, broken here and 
there by gaps, recalled the pictures of that mountain ; in- 
deed, one of my Indian companions, who had been to Boraima, 
ejaculated, as he pointed to one of these rocks, * little Ro- 
raima.' Far up on the faces of the cliff were ledges on 
which grew what appeared to be a few green plants ; some 
idea of the size of these cliffs may be drawn from the fact 
that the field-glasses showed these plants to be tall forest trees. 

Among this scenery animal life was nowhere abundant. 
Bright orange-coloured * cocks of the rock' {Rupicola crocea, 
Vieill) flitting like flashes of light from tree to tree, were 
perhaps the most abundant form ; a hawk occasionally rose 
screaming firom some high ledge of rock ; now and then a 
maroodi {Pendope) cried shrilly firom among the trees ; and 
a few kingfishers darted across and along the water. On 
one tree a pair of bright green toucans (AulacoraTnphus 
dulcatua)^ the only examples of the genus I ever saw, were 


On the same day on which we left Amootoo we reached the 
last small cataract at Waratoo. The portage is short, but we 
were not even obliged to use it ; for by carrying the goods 
past the cataract, we were able to drag the boat up in the 
water. Jlalf-an-hour after leaving this place, I experienced 
a most strange and memorable sensation. 

A partial view of the distant fall should be obtained 
from this point. Before us, in the distance, the ravine 
ended in a bare cliff face. Over that the Kaieteur should 
fall. But now there was no trace of water ; only dense clouds 
of white mist, undefined from the cloudy sky above, rose from 
towards the foot of the cliff and slowly passed upward along 
its face. Oiur two Indians who had visited the place before 
gasped out * Kaieteur, he dry.' We looked at each other 
with solemn faces and then laughed nervously. We seemed 
the victims of a great practical joke, of which Mr. Brown and 
nature were the perpetrators ; the former by over-estimating 
the fall, which according to him had * foamed for ages past,' 
the latter by drying up * one of the grandest falls in the 
world * in this not particularly dry season. All our long and 
difficult way had been passed, all our pains expended, all our 
hopes nourished, to see a Ml where no fall was. It was the old 
story of * the play of Hamlet with the part of the Prince of 
Denmark omitted.' 

Almost as soon as we had caught the first glimpse of the 
Kaieteur cliff a turn in the river hid it, and we had time to 
realise our feelings. The great white clouds which we had 
seen were my only hope as we paddled gloomily on to the 
landing place at Tookooie cataract. 

Beyond this point it is impossible to take boats; for 
from here up to the great fall is no smooth water, but only a 
long succession of rapids, falls, and cataracts. We had to 
camp at a spot some fifty yards beyond the real landing- 
place, which was entirely occupied by a large party of 
Ackawoi who were on their way down from their homes 
above the fall to the Essequibo, or * Scapi ' as they call it, 
to eat fish and turtles' eggs. There are a few fish in the 


Potaro below the Kaieteur, but none above; turtles are 
altogether wanting in the river. We hoped to induce some 
of these Indians to guide us to the foot of the fall ; but, 
like all the Indians of the district, they were far too fearful 
of its supposed supernatural character to approach either the 
bottom or the top. Even in carrying their woodskins down 
past the fall, they make an immense detour of five or six 
miles, rather than go near the place. 

We had reached this place only eleven days after leaving 
Bartica Grove. Two of these days had been spent without 
travelling. So that Tookooie was actually reached in nine 

The next morning we started to make our way to the 
foot of the fall, taking our hammocks and a small supply of 
provisions with us. There is no track of any sort. Each 
traveller must cut and climb his own way : and the journey 
is of a most arduous kind. Starting at about eleven o'clock 
in the morning we followed the track leading to the top of 
the fall for a few hundred yards, and then struck off, as it 
afterwards turned out, too soon, to the river on our left. Before 
long we climbed down the face of a considerable fall on a 
creek running into the Potaro. On the dry ledges of this 
was a splendid growth of large filmy ferns {Trichomanes 
Prieurii^ Kunze) with fronds a foot long. Following the 
course of this creek we reached the boulders on the edge of 
the main river, and climbed for some time along these. 
Presently, by an unlucky thought, we left the river-bank and 
again ascended high up into the hill forest. Then the way 
became absolutely terrific. The whole floor of the ravine, 
as well as the hill-side for some distance up, is covered, ap- 
parently to the depth of several hundred feet, by a litter of 
huge boulders varying in size from that of a large house to 
a few feet square, piled in the wildest confusion. Those 
by the water-side are smaller, and, being quite bare, are 
easily passed. But within the forest, trees, shrubs, creepers, 
aroids, begonias, all growing in the most eccentric places 
and directions, formed, from rock to rock, a covering treach- 


erously hiding the crevasses and ravines. Among, over, and 
under these boulders we had to creep, climb, or slide as 
best we could; we had to walk across fallen, often rotten, 
trees bridging over ugly-looking crevasses ; we had to pass 
over places where the ground, seeming firm, really consisted 
of 2L network of small roots, over which was a deceitful 
covering of dead leaves and growing ferns and mosses ; again 
and again when trusting ourselves in such places we found 
ourselves buried up to the waist; once I disappeared en- 
tirely. On the whole it was a very ugly climb ; and yet it 
was just in the worst places that the wonderful beauty of 
the plants, especially the ferns and begonias, most repaid 
the toil. My only regret was that under the circumstances 
I was only able to snatch a plant here and there, leaving 
many and many a wished-for specimen ungathered. As a 
collecting place, .for a naturalist no better spot could be 

By about three in the afternoon we came out of the 
forest to the river-edge, at a point about a quarter of a mile 
from the fell and just at the mouth of the Kaieteur amphi- 
theatre. Before, and close to us, was the fall, about two- 
thirds of its upper part visible. The Kaieteur was not dry ; 
but it was less than half the width proper to it in the rainy 
season. Still it was very splendid, and the beauty of the 
surrounding scenery made great amends for the deficiency 
of water. 

The reason that no descending water had been visible 
from Waratoo was now obvious. At the fall, the Kiieteur 
raviue ends in a complete amphitheatre with clifi'-like walls 
800 feet in height. It is into this amphitheatre that the 
Potaro falls firom the plateau above. Supposing the amphi- 
theatre were divided into quarters by drawing one straight 
line firom the entrance to the opposite cliff and another 
straight line cutting the former in the middle and ending on 
either side at the cliff, then the space over which the water 
falls is included within the left-hand quarter farthest fi:-om 
the entrance. Therefore, when looking into the amphi- 



theatre from a point directly opposite its entrance we could 
only see the bare cliflF at the side of the fall. When full the 
fall extends over the part of the cliflF directly opposite the 
entrance of the amphitheatre, so that part of it is then 
visible from a long distance down the ravine. 

The floor of the amphitheatre is occupied by a waste of 
fallen rocks, made black by constant moisture, but capped 
with short, intensely green grass, except round the dark 
stormy pool into which the water falls, where the rocks are 
entirely bare, slippery, and bjack. Immediately behind the 
fall a huge, dark cave is visible in the cliflF. The upper edge 
of thfe cliflF serves as a horizon to the whole scene when 
viewed from below. 

Afber spending twenty-four hours at the foot of the fall, 
we started back to the landing-place. By keeping as much 
as possible to the rocks by the river- side and ascending injbo 
the bush only when absolutely necessary, we found a far 
easier route than that by which we went on the previous 
day, and the camp at Tookooie was reached in about two hours 
and a half. 

The next day was spent at Tookooie, and on the day. after 
WB started for the top of the fall. The way lay along a beaten 
Indian track, which is only difl&cult because, in parts, very 
steep; After two hours' climb through the forest, we came 
out on to the savannah from which the Kaieteur falls. No 
more strange place than this was ever imagined. The ground 
is formed by an entirely bare layer of hard conglonierate 
rock. No soil exists etcept in the cracks and fissures. Ih 
these small deposits of earth innumerable gigantic Brome- 
liads, looking more like agaves,* have taken root, and form the 

■ The somewhat imperfect specimens of the flower of this plant, which 
were all that I could procure at that season, led Mr. J. G. Baker of Ke# 
,to suppose that the plant was a^ new species of Cordyline, and very .inte- 
resting is being onlj the second species of the genus that had been dis- 
'covered on the American continent. Mr. Balcer accordingly described anH 
tflj^red' the plant as .Cprdylin^ mtvrantlui, nov. sp. in the Gardenerf* 
f Chronicle, More perfect specimens, since .obtained by my friend Mr. 
' Jenman, have proved that the plant is really a gigani ic Bromeliad, and of 
'even iar higher interest than had been supposed, as being by far the hitst 

THE KAIETEim P^L (In irf wwI/Wr}. 

-I- L' . 


most prominent feature in the scene. Thickets of splendid- 
flowered orchids {Sobrdlia)^ as tall as a man, and many other 
rare and quaint plants grow among the agave groups, each of 
which is laced together by a large fern {Pteris dquUind), 
almost, if not quite, identical with the delicately beautiful 
and graceful English bracken. 

This plant-growth lends a most strange character to the 
scenery of the place. It is quite unlike anything I have 
seen elsewhere in the colony, and for once realises the 
common idea of tropical scenery. The savannah is of itself 
well worthy of a visit.* 

Crossing the savannah we soon reached the Eaieteur 
cliff. Lying at fall length on the ground, head over the 
edge of the cliff, I gazed down. 

Then, and only then, the splendid and, in the most 
solemn sense of the word, awful beauty of the Kaieteur burst 
upon me. Seven hundred and fifty feet below, encircled by 
black boulders, lay a great pool into which the column of 
white water, graceful as a ceaseless flight of innumerable 
rockets, thundered from by my side. Behind the fall, 
through the thinnest parts of the veil of foam and mist, the 
great black cavern made the white of the water look yet 
more white. 

Jly first sensations were of a terrible and undefined 
fear. Those who visit the fall will understand this. When 
some of the men hurled down one of the big Bromeliads, the 
act seemed to cause me unbearable pain ; I had as soon have 
hurled myself over as have allowed a repetition of the act just 
then. Gradually, however, these painful feelings gave way 
to others of intense wondering delight ; and the whole scene, 

colossal Bromeliad ever diaoovered. Mr. Baker has now proyisionally 
named it Broechinia oordylinoidei. 

* Mr. Jenman, who has since had a prolonged opportunity of coUect- 
ing plants on this savannah, procured and sent from there to Kew a 
herbarium collection, which is declared by the assistant-director of the 
Boyal Gardens to be * almost the most important collection ever received 
from South America.' 

w 2 


the gigantic weird fall, the dark and slippery places below, 
the grass-covered rocks at the gate of the amphitheatre, and 
beyond that the bright thickly wooded valley of the winding 
river, visible for many miles, were revealed, never to be 

As soon as we could force ourselves away from the 
cliff, we formed our camp in a clump of small trees which 
stands at the very edge of the fall. Here we spent two days, 
which were fully occupied in searching the whole strange 

In the rock plateau, not far from* the edge of the cliff, 
are certain long, narrow, and immeasurable deep fissures, 
lying parallel to the cliff, and therefore at right angles to 
the bed of the river. They exactly resemble the very 
narrowest crevasses in a glacier. These seem to throw some 
light on the process by which the ravine and amphitheatre 
of the Kaieteur have been formed. It must be remembered 
that the plateau consists of a layer of hard conglomerate 
overlying a bed of softer sandstone. The cave behind the 
column of water has been formed, as Mr. Brown has said, by 
the back splash from the fall, which has washed away the 
sandstone from under the conglomerate. The ordinary 
theory is that the constant passage of the water gradually 
wears away this conglomerate roof, and so the cave and fall 
continuously, but very gradually, retreat backward. But it 
seems to me that the process is not gradual, but by occasional, 
sudden catastrophes. 

Though I was unable to find one of these narrow fissures 
crossing the actual bed of the stream, yet from their frequent 
occurrence on other parts of the plateau, and considering 
that the rock close by the top of the fall is extraordinarily 
uneven, looking as if much creased and folded ; and that the 
bed of the river just there is much choked by a dense mouth 
of sedges, it is probable that such fissures do occur across the 
bed of the river. If so, while the main body of the water would, 
by reason of its velocity, rush over them, yet some water would 
trickle down through these fissures, and would gradually 


i^riden them. The result of this would be that the con- 
glomerate would form, not a roof, but a bridge, over the cave. 
This bridge would in time give way, its fragments falling to 
the bottom of the amphitheatre. Only in this way, it seems 
to me, can the enormous masses of boulders which fill the 
whole bottom of the ravine be accounted for. 

The water being very low at the time of our visit, we 
were able to obtain a better view of the cave and pool than 
has been obtained by others ; and it certainly seemed that 
there was a small flow of water outward from the cave and 
from behind the fall. If this is so, it of course corroborates 
the above theory. 

The more I saw of the Bromeliads of the savannah the 
more striking they appeared. Unlike most other succulent 
plants they are of a bright light yellowish-green colour, and 
seem at first sight very unfitted to find nourishment on this 
parched plain of earth-bare rock. A second glance, however, 
shows a special adaptation to the place of growth. The base 
of each leaf of the rosette-shaped plant is so curved in at its 
edges against the leaf immediately within it that it forms a 
large reservoir for water. Each of these receptacles contains 
from a half-pint to a pint ; so that the whole plant is provided 
with a store of several quarts of water. These receptacles 
being fully exposed to the sun, the water within them must 
evaporate quickly ; but the heavy dew which falls here, and 
the thick clouds of mist which continually rise by night and 
during the early morning from the fall and drop back on 
this plain in the form of rain must continually renew the 

Another perhaps yet more curious, though inconspicuous 
plant was a small round-leafed sundew {Droaera rotund i- 
folia)j an iosect-ea^fig plant which grows plentifully among 
the loose stones overlying the rocks in the very driest parts 
of the savannah. It« small red leaves are covered with long 
hairs, each of which carries a drop of very sticky liquid. 
Small insects, hovering round the plant, are caught by this 
gummy substance, and are unable to get away from the 


plant, which slowly absorbs their life-juices. How this plant, 
usually such a lover of watery places, manages to subsist on 
these ixx^ks is mysterious. 

Each evening, at dusk, the flocks of swifts (AcanthyUi8 
collaria) spoken of by Mr. Brown arrived ; but they were by. 
no means as numerous as they seem to have been at the 
time of his visits. They fly high in the air above the fall, 
then so suddenly descend straight down into the amphi- 
theatre, that their wings make a hissing noise which is not 
the least curious phenomenon of this wonderful place. After 
descending straight down, they settled for the night on the 
face of the cliff, by and behind the fall. 

Here, too, we were lucky enough to obtain specimens of 
a new species of bird, which Mr. P. L. Sclater has done me 
the honour to name after me, Agelceua imthumi. 

The nights were bitterly cold. The moon was big at the 
time, and as it shone on the fall seemed to make it grow 
more weird. The thunderous roar of its water sounded much 
louder than by day. Towards morning it became evident 
that masses of thick whit^ clouds filled the whole valley be- 
low the fall ; nor did these clear away till nine o'clock in the 

It was with regret that we turned, at last, to leave the 
Kaieteur, but after a six days' stay in the neighbourhood, it 
was time to start homeward. 

No new or striking incident occurred during our return, 
and I may therefore bring my story to a close. 

In the following February, at the end of a heavy rainy 
season, having a month's leave of absence, it seemed that the 
time could hardly be better employed than in again ascend- 
ing the Potaro and seeing the fall of the river in flood. Mr. 
T. C. Edwards-Moss went with me ; and with twenty Indians 
we started from Bartica Grove, in three boats, on Monday, 
the 10th of February, and, in spite of the large quantity of 
water both in the Essequibo and Potaro rivers, accomplished 
our journey comfortably, and so quickly that we were back 


1 » I 



again at the Grove on the 3rd of March, after an absence, 
that is, of only twenty-two days. 

The journey up the Essequibo to the mouth of the Potaro 
occupied five days. The river was high ; but the heavy rains 
having just come to an end, somewhat later in the year than 
usual, the water was beginning to sink. 

The falls in this part of the river were easily passed, and 
almost without adventure. On landing at the side of the 
rapids at Coomaka, which were almost completely smoothed 
over by the great quantity of water which was coming down 
the river, we found a great snake, a camoodi {Eunectes 
rauriTia) asleep on rocks. My companion shot it ; and it 
proved to be twenty feet in length and three feet in girth at 
the thickest. 

On Friday night we camped just opposite the mouth of 
the Potaro river ; and early on the next morning we turned 
up that river, and in a couple of hours reached the first cata- 
ract at Toomatoomari. Here we spent the afternoon in the 
bush in a vain attempt to hxmt — unfortunately we saw no- 
thing to hunt. At Toomatoomari the scene was very different 
from what it had been in the dry season. Now, below the 
cataract, instead of a plain of sandbanks and rocks with a few 
water-channels, all was one sheet of water, covered with 
masses of white foam from the tumbling water above. And 
now the cataract, instead of being small and narrow, rushed 
in through the whole upper end of the plain, and was at 
least three or four times as wide as it had been in October. 

As it was at Toomatoomari, so it was throughout the whole 
river. The water in the Essequibo had been high, but in 
the Potaro it was yet higher. Within the few weeks before 
and during our expedition much more rain must have fallen 
on the sandstone region in which the Potaro rises than in th6 
parts about the upper waters of the Essequibo. When we 
reached the latter river on our return we found it had sunk 
considerably, while the Potaro was then much higher than 
when we entered it. Hardly a day during our expedition 
was without rain, and while we were near the Kaieteur the 


rainfall was often very heavy. Of the twenty-two days of our 
absence from Bartica only two were dry : during the same 
period very little rain fell on the coast region ; and, judging 
from the state of the river, very little can have fallen towards 
the sources of the Essequibo. 

The Potaro was, as has been said, in flood, and rose y€t 
higher during the time we were on it. Rapids, cataracts, 
and falls had widened, since I had seen them three months 
before, from a width of a few yards to many hundred feet. 
And in the reaches between the falls the innumerable sand- 
banks and rocks which I had seen were now quite covered by 
a strong, swift flow of dark water carrying long lines of masses 
of white foam, which looked like large flocks of white birds 
swimming with the current. It is hard to say whether the 
scenery on the river was more, or less, beautiful than it had 
been when the river was low. The cataracts now were un- 
doubtedly very far finer, and were in themselves quite 
worthy of a visit ; but, on the other hand, the smooth reaches 
of the river had lost much of the fairy-like beauty which had 
charmed me before, and had acquired something of the 
monotonous character common to most of the rivers of 

But even in these smooth reaches there was one thing 
more beautiful than it had been before. It was, as has been 
said, the chief flowering season of the year ; and the flowers 
were more strikingly beautiful than I have ever seen them in 
the tropics. For it is not in these warm regions, but in the 
temperate northern climates, that plants most profusely 
cover themselves with masses of flowers and produce their 
most gorgeous effects. But for once, as we went up the 
Potaro, great masses of bright flowers gleamed in places on 
the banks. Three plants were most especially striking. One, 
the loveliest of all, the cakeralli {Lecythia ollai^\ was in 
full flower. In the forest it grows tall ; but here on the 
banks of the river, where it was very abundant, it was a small 
gnarled and knotted tree. Some of its many small leaves 
were green, some of various shades of bright bronzy red. 


Each of its flowers was like a beautiful pink orchid ; but their 
clusters were in habit and colour like those on the branchlets 
of a standard peach at home. Indeed, no better idea of the 
general effect of these trees can be given than by saying that 
they vividly recalled these English peach-trees, or perhaps 
still more our pink, double-blossomed hawthorns. Often 
these cakeralli trees were half in, and overhanging the water ; 
and then the reflection of the mass of its warm pink blossoms 
in the still dark water was supremely beautiful. Once we 
passed the mouth of a creek far down which, seen at the end 
of a shady passage formed by overarching trees, a cakeralli, 
half-fallen, reached nearly across the stream; and yet it 
lived, and was flowering and reddening all the water under 
it. At another time the eye would be attracted by a deep 
blue patch on the surface of the water, and looking up the 
bank to see what caused this new reflection, would rest on a 
cluster of many foot- long wreaths of the intensely blue star- 
flowers of the Petrcea martiawt^ one of the most strikingly 
beautiful flowers of Gruiana, and one which is not as common 
in gardens as it should be. 

A third plant which was then in full bloom was a white 
waxy flower (Posoqueria longifiora) with clustered blos- 
soms like long-tubed, hanging gardenias, with a strong sweet 
scent, and with pretty egg-shaped, orange-coloured fruits, 
ripe even on the flowering branches. And between these 
plants were many others equally beautiful though not so 

The height of the river did not cause much extra diffi- 
culty. Our boat and one of the canoes were portaged past 
Toomatoomari cataract, instead of being hauled up as is pos 
sible in a lower state of the water. At Mowraseema the 
rapids had increased much in number, though not individu- 
ally in difficulty. But when we came to the portage at 
Pacoutout, which we had avoided before by hauling up the 
bateau, we found that we could not this time shirk the work 
of clearing the path, laying it with skids, and carrying over 
the bateau. We therefore left the canoe at the lower end of 


the portage, and took only the * Adaba,' our built boai, to- 
gether with three woodskins which the Indians living at 
Pacoutout offered to lend us. A whole day was, however, 
occupied in getting our one boat across. The path, along 
which it had to be dragged, passes through a cassava field, so 
that much extra labour was occasioned by the number of 
felled trees which had to be cleared away. Some Indians 
have, however, settled here since our last visit, so that the 
path was in better order than it then was. A very severe 
and unlucky illness of my companion, a memorable event to 
both of us ever after, caused a day's delay here, and nearly 
caused our return. Portaging again at Amootoo, and haul- 
ing the boat up past Waratoo, on the fifth day from Tooma- 
toomari, we came in sight of the Kaieteur. It seemed 
about four miles off. This was the point fix)m which on the 
occasion of my former visit the Kaieteur was not, as it ought 
to have been, visible, so that when we came here, we thought 
for an hour or two that the fall was quite dry. But now, far 
off at the end of the valley, the white water was very visible 
as it fell over the wall-like cliff which closes the end of the 
ravine. The Kaieteur was now evidently very full. 

One hour later we were at the landing-place at Tookooie, 
which is within three hours' walk of the fall, and beyond 
which it is impossible to take boats. We had taken twelve 
days to reach this point from Barlica Grove ; but of these 
nearly two whole days had been spent without travelling. 

I have already described the steep, but not difiScult, walk 
through the forest, up the higher level of the fall. On 
coming out on to the savannah we found that it had been 
burned. The Bromeliads with which it is chiefly clad 
were hardly more than charred stumps and leaves ; but the 
low-growing vegetation round the roots of these had re- 
covered and was more vigorous than in October. The 
bracken {Pteris dquUina)^ pushing up its young woolly 
heads, reminded one of spring at home ; a few ground orchids 
were in flower, but unfortunately not the Sobralia, which I 
bad most hoped to see. 


Crossing the savannah, and coming to the edge of the 
eliflf over which the Potaro falls, we once more lay down, 
bodies along the top of the cliflF, heads over its edge. It 
was a very diflFerent scene from the last time. Then it was 
beautiful and terrible ; but now it was something which it is 
useless to try to describe. Then a narrow river, not a third 
of its present width, fell over the clifif in a column of white 
water, which was brought into startling prominence by the 
darkness of the great cave behind ; and this column of water, 
before it reached the small, black pool below, had narrowed 
to a point. Now an indescribably, almost inconceivably, 
vast curtain of water — I can find no other phrase — some 
four hundred feet in width, rolled over the top of the cliff, 
retaining its full width until it crashed into the boiling water 
of the pool which filled the whole space below ; and of the 
surface of this pool itself only the outer edge was visible, 
for the greater part was ceaselessly tossed and hurled up in 
a great and high mass of surf and foam and spray« 

The fall, when the river was almost dry, had seemed as 
grand and beautifi^l a thing as it was possible to imagine ; 
but now it was so infinitely more grand, so infinitely more 
beautiful, that it is painfully hopeless to try to express in 
words anything of its beauty and grandeur. Indeed the 
very words beauty and grandeur, and indeed all other words, 
seem absurdly weak when applied to such a scene as that. 
It is indeed possible to write down a few separate impres- 
sions that came to me as I looked at the fall, but it is im- 
possible even to hint at the overpowering effect which the 
whole scene produced. 

We made our camp at the old spot, at the actual edge 
of the fall. The river there had been choked by sedges 
{Cypefnia) ^ among which the water used to creep hidden to 
its fall ; but this plant-growth was now quite covered by the 
rushing river. 

About an hour before sunset on the first evening of our 
stay rain began to fall in light showers. Low down at our 

I The species is new to science. 


feet, across the river below the fall, the sun and rain built 
a coloured arch right across the ravine ; and through this the 
river, narrowed by a seemingly endless series of projecting 
clifif buttresses, was seen winding through the forest-covered 
country till it passed the far-away sugar-loaf mountain 
at Amootoo, and then lost itself in the great wooded plain 

An hour later heavy low-lying clouds had gathered, and 
almost shut us' in in our camp on the edge of the cliff. Then 
the mist and cloud and rain and wind made another wonderful 
scene. The great rocky ravine at our feet was filled by huge 
masses of rolling, driving cloud which hid everything, except 
when, now and then, a cold blast of wind, separating two 
clouds for a few seconds, showed in the gap some pro- 
jecting cliff-ledge, or some tree-covered rock, apparently 
hanging suspended in a cloud world. And all the while the 
great river rushed swiftly at our side to the edge of the cliff, 
rolled over, and as it fell plunged through strange weird 
pillars of white mist, which continually rose from it and 
passed up into the low leaden-coloured sky overhead, down 
into the denser, unbroken mass of clouds below, and there 
hid itself. Night came on, and as it grew darker and 
darker, the few swifts (Acanthyllis coUaria) which ' were 
about fell headlong down from the sky above ; and they 
too were gone into' the cloud. And the noise of the fall — 
the rustling sound of falling water and the deep boom rising 
from the unseen pool below — added to the effect. The 
whole world seemed unreal and grandly fantastic. In such a 
scene as that one forgets one's self, forgets real life, and 
seems carried into a new, hardly formed universe. It was 
a picture which only Turner could, and would have delighted 
to paint ; nor could even he have shown more than a small 
part, of its strangeness. 

Presently the rain, coming on more and more heavily, 
drove us to our hammocks, in which we lay awake, cold 
and wet, nearly all that night. Our hammock covers were 
almost useless ag^nst ^uch rain, and with such wind to 




drive the rain. In the morning it was nearly nine o'clock 
before we got a fire lighted. Then the rain ceased for a 
while, and we managed to turn out to get a bathe in the 
river. The water had risen much in the night and was 
evidently still rising ; it was already within a few feet of the 
point at which the rock-covering of dead and withered water- 
weed {Lads) showed high-water mark. As the clouds again 
threatened rain, and as we meant to stay where we were for 
at least another day, oxu: men built a capital and substantial 
house of posts and palm-leaves, which ought to be useful to 
future visitors. 

That day was passed in much walking about, and in 
seeing the fall from many poiats. We had a stop-watch 
with us ; and by repeatedly fixing our attention on particular 
rocket-like points of water, we timed the falling water from 
the instant at which it passed over the upper edge of the 
cliflF to that at which it reached the pool below. The time 
was almost exactly 6*5 seconds. Another thing noticed during 
that day was that the swifts did not as usual leave the 
place during the day to return at night, but hovered about 
the face of the clifif all day. It was probably their breeding 

At night the shelter of our house was most welcome; 
for the rain, which had only fallen at intervals during the 
day, began to fall again heavily. But the next morning 
was splendidly fine. On the whole, we were very lucky in 
the weather. It had been tolerably dry while we were 
walking up to the savannah, then came thirty-six hours of 
almost incessant rain, which increased and entirely filled the 
fall ; and then our last day there was gloriously fine, so that 
we could fully enjoy the marvellous scene. 

The river was now quite full, the water being up to the 
bushes on either bank, and the fall was at its grandest. In 
bathing that morning, we found that the current had become 
so strong that we had to keep close in to the bushes, and 
even then it was very difficult to stand ; a step too far might 
have sent us down the Kaieteur. 


All the time we had to spare we lay at the edge of the 
cliflF wondering at the exceeding beauty of the fall, and all 
our talk was of its grandeur. Its edge and surface was no 
even line, but was thrown into many and varied curves by 
projections and inequalities in the cliff. And the water at 
each curve seemed different (in the mode in which it fell, 
and in colour) from each other part. In places the fall was 
of purest white ; this was where a rise in the level of the 
cliff edge caused the water to break over it, and, shooting out 
into the air, to fell in a vast dense body of white drops. But 
the greater part of the curtain of the fall was formed of the 
beautiful overlapping rocket-like points, which constantly 
fell and were constantly succeeded by others ; here the 
colour at each point varied according to the depth of the 
water, and was of many shades of a peculiar amber, lighten- 
ing below into the colour best described as *ecru.' It is 
impossible to tell more accurately the endless variety in 
the contour and colour of the fall. 

The great curtain of water, entirely covering the whole 
front of the cave, seemed as a curtain in front of an entrance 
to an Inferno. Even were it possible, one would almost be 
afraid to penetrate behind it. 

But perhaps the most beautiful effects that morning were 
produced by the rainbows down in the ravine below, caused 
by the sun shining on the ever-rising masses of mist and 
spray. One end of the bow passed over the lower part of the 
fall itself, and blending with the water and losing all regular- 
ity of outline, it seemed to become a part of each beautiful 
rocket of water and of each of the myriads of white water- 
drops, till the whole fell like a vast shower of jewels. Nor 
was the other end of the arch, lying along the flat black 
boulders, capped with grass of pale but most brilliant green, 
round the pool, less beautiful. 

Some small white butterflies seemed in some way irre- 
sistibly attracted into the fall ; they occasionally passed us 
and flew lower and lower, the sunlight glittering on their 


white wings, till they flitted about in the rainbow-tinted 
^ray ; and then they were sucked in by the water. 

Time passed, and we had to turn homeward ; and so on 
the afternoon of the third day of our visit, after a last long look 
at the fall, we went down to our boats and camp at Tookooie. 
We had determined not to attempt to make our way into 
the ravine at the foot of the fall ; for on my previous visit I 
had found that the view obtained from there was not worth 
the great labour of the journey. But now, even if we had 
wished to go in, it would hardly have been possible ; for the 
river was now so high over the rocks on which we had walked 
that we should at least have had to make an entirely new 

So, after another wet night at Tookooie, we started down 
the Potaro the next morning. The short spell of fine weather 
was over,. and rain fell almost incessantly. As we passed 
down, the ravine was grand in its clothing of clouds and 
mist ; and the rains had made numberless fine cataracts down 
the cliffs, filling the valley with their roar. 

Our homeward journey was unadventurous. At the 
settlement of Aykooroo they had collected a very large 
quantity of cassava bread, with a few jsins and plantains for 
us. At the next settlement, called the Island, at the upper 
end of Pacoutout portage, they had more bread, some mai- 
purie meat {Tapirua americunus), and some delicious wild 
honey. The head man of this settlement said that he owned 
the deserted settlement at the mouth of the Cooriebrong 
river, that he meant to build a church there, and that he 
wished me to send him a ^domini' (parson). This is a com- 
mon whim among Indians ; they build a large house, which 
they are pleased to call a church, use it for holding paiwari 
feasts, and whenever a white man approaches are loud in 
their calls for a parson. 

In shooting one of the rapids at Mowraseema, our boat 
came suddenly against a sharp rock, and a hole was knocked 
in her bottom. However, a little baling till we got to shore. 


and then a little caulking^ made all right. The rest of the 
falls were easily passed. 

In three days we reached Toomatoomari, where, on account 
of the rise in the river, there was considerable difficulty in 
getting the boats over. Coming to the Essequibo we found 
that it, unlike the Potaro, had simk considerably during our 
absence. Four days later, on the 3rd of March, we reached 
Bartica Grove, and the pleasantest of all my journeys into 
the interior had come to an end. 

A few words as to future expeditions may be useful. 
^ Firstly, as to the means which ndght be taken by the 
Government to fEicilitate the whole journey ; I confess that 
money spent on cutting paths from any point on the Esse- 
quibo to the Kaieteur seems to me thrown away. A small 
amount of money and labour might much more advan- 
tageously be used in permanently improving the portage 
paths, and in making a moderately good path from Tookooie 
landing to the foot of the fidl. An annual present might 
also be made to the Indians settled along the route, on con- 
dition that they keep open the portages, keep boats for 
travellers, and give all assistance in their poWer. 

Secondly, as regards the travellers' own part in organising 
the expedition ; the first requisite is that none but Indians 
be taken in the crew. A large and comfortable boat may be 
taken from Bartica Grove as far as Toomatoomari ; but above 
that one or more small boats are necessary. It adds much 
to the travellers' comfort without entailing much trouble, 
if a few iron stanchions and a movable awning to cover 
these small boats are taken. 

As to the time of year at which it is best to visit the 
Kaieteur, I think the dry season is to be preferred. The 
volume of the water is then undoubtedly much reduced, but 
en the other hand the ease and comfort of the journey is 
much increased, while the really exquisite scenery of the 
whole of the Potaro river is only then seen in its perfection. 

The following directions as to the path from Tookooie 
landing-place may be given. I must first state that even if 


the easiest way to the foot of the fall is found, the diflSculty 
of the walk is by no means slight, and should not be 
attempted by any but a young and fairly active man. And 
when the foot of the fall is reached, the view obtained does 
not repay the toil expended. I should strongly advise all 
but the most adventurous to be content with the far finer 
view to be obtained from above. 

Those, however, who are determined to see the fall from 
below must follow the beaten track which leads to the top 
for rather more than a quarter of a mile to a point where it 
is crossed by a very considerable creek, the bed of which; 
twenty to thirty yards wide, is formed of perfectly flat sand- 
stone ledges. This is the creek on the ledges of which, on 
crossing at a point lower down, I noticed the splendid luxuri- 
ance of the filmy ferns ( Trichomanes prietirii ). The way then 
lies down the bed of this creek if the water is shallow, or 
along its southern side if the stream is deep, till the main 
river is reached. After that it is necessary to keep to the 
bare boulders as close to the river's edge as possible. It is 
only necessary to go into the forest when passing the head 
of the last cataract, called Serikabaroo, before the Kaieteur. 
Here the boulders are so huge and have such cliff-like sides 
that it is absolutely necessary to go some distance up the 
side of the ravine ; and this is the most fatiguing part of the 
journey. It is very difficult to get within the actual amphi- 
theatre of the Ml, and the traveller must form his camp at 
its mouth. But it may be entered by swinuning from rock to 
rock, and in this way the actual edge of the pool into which 
the river &lls may be gained. 

The top of the fall is easily reached from Tookooie by fol- 
lowing the beaten path, though this is occasionally very 

The only good place to camp is reached by walking 
straight across the savannah, on coming out from the forest, 
to the opposite side, close to the edge of the fall. But the 
best view is to be obtained by turning to the left immediately 
on entering the savannah, instead of crossing to the camping 



place, and by going in the most direct way to the edge of 
the cliff of the amphitheatre. 

The mountain called Boraima, about which a few words 
must be said, lies on the extreme western edge of the colony 
on, or perhaps on the other side of, the Brazilian boundary. 
It has attracted much attention because of its peculiar form 
and circumstances. The first travellers who noticed it were 
the brothers Schomburgk, who were in that neighbourhood 
about the year 1840. Since then it has been thrice visited : 
by Mr. C. Barrington Brown in 1869, while surveying the 
geology of the colony ; by my friends, Messrs. Eddington and 
Flint, in 1877 ; and lastly, by my friends, Messrs. McTurk 
and Boddam-Wetham, in 1878. Moreover, in 1881, Mr. 
David Burke, an orchid collector, and Mr. Whitely, a zoo- 
logical collector, separately approached within sight of the 

It is a table-land formed of sandstone, which rises in a 
perpendicular cliff from the general plain ; or rather, the 
savannah slopes somewhat abruptly upward to a height of 
some 6,000 feet above the sea-level, and this swelling is 
crowned by a flat-topped mass of sandstone some 2,000 feet 
in height, the walls of which are perpendicular. The cir- 
cumference of this mass is entirely unknown, for no traveller 
has yet been round it. Bound the whole circumference the 
wall is said to be equally perpendicular ; but this is a mere 
matter of conjecture and must remain so until some traveller 
makes his way round it. The flat top appears to be forest 
covered ; and down its sides, at any rate at times, consider- 
able masses of water fall at various points. On the suppo- 
sition that the summit is really inaccessible, not only to men, 
but to all unwinged animals, there are those who hold that 
on this table land, cut off as this must thus be from all 
communication with the rest of the world, very possibly animal 
forms of a primitive type exist which have undergone no 
modification under the influence of new-coming forms since 
the plain was first isolated in mid-air. Whether the place 
be quite inaccessible to such modifying influences or not, it is 


at least certain that not only the &Tina, but also the flora, 
mnst present features of great interest. At present there is, 
as I have already hinted, nothing to indicate that the 
mountain is really inaccessible on all sides. The first thing 
to be done is for a traveller to make his way all round it. 
The difficulty of doing this would be great. The task would 
take a very considerable and indefinite time, and as the dis- 
tance of the mountain from any main and easily navigable 
river is great, it would be impossible for the traveller to carry 
with him sufficient provisions from the coast to support him- 
self and the assistants necessary to him during this time. 
It would therefore be necessary to live almost entirely on such 
food as may be procured from the Indians of the district, or 
by hunting; but the Indians there are few and have but 
little land under cultivation, and game is said to be scarce. 
The explorer would, therefore, have ta undergo considerable 

To a botanist the time spent in such a preliminary walk 
round Roraima would be ftdl of interest. For whether the 
plants on the top of the mtonntain are ever reached or not, 
the vegetation round the base is extraordinarily rich and 
interesting. The following description of the plant life in 
the Boraima district, by Sichard Schomburgk,^ who, though 
the only botanist who had been there, was only in the neigh- 
bourhood for a few days, ought to be sufficient in itself to 
attract an explorer : — 

' From the crevices in the sandstone strata sprang various 
orchids ; and besides these, the rosy-flowered Marcetia taxi- 
folia (Dec) had established itself in the fissures — a plant 
which I had not before seen, and which from a distance I 
mistook for an Erica. (>n reaching the summit a wide and 
splendid plateau, broken by small hills and clumps of rich 
green trees and bushes, stretched towards the north-west, 
north, and north-east, and was bounded in the far distance 
by high ranges of mountains. Our way was across a soft 

* Richard Schomburgk. ReUen in Britisch Guiana (Leipzig, 1S48} 
vol. ii. p. 216. 



velvety sward, still wet with dew, directly northward, till 
I was attracted by a dense clump of tree-like plants. These 
were indeed remarkable. Their naked stems, several feet 
in circumference, at last branched in two, while at the ends 
of these branches were long grass-like broad leaves. In the 
absence of flowers and fruits it was impossible to determine 
whether these remarkable plants belonged to the Pandandcece 
or VellozieoB. These strange plants rose straight up into the 
air from the sandstone rubble, which was covered by an 
Eriocaulon and a curious grey-black grass. My brother had 
seen a group of these plants in 1838 when he first ascended 
this sandstone range ; but on that occasion also they were 
not in flower or fruit. On reaching the declivity, a breeze 
from the north came loaded with a delicious scent, and our 
astonished eyes were attracted by innumerable stems of 
white, violet, and purple flowers which waved about the sur- 
rounding bush. These were groups of superb SobraZias ; and 
amongst them 8. Elizdbethce rose tallest of all. I found 
flowering stems of from five to six feet high. But not only 
these orchids, but the shrubs and the low trees, still dripping 
with heavy dew, were unknown to me. Every shrub, herb, 
and tree was new to me, if not as to its family, yet as to 
species, I stood on the border of an unknown plant zone 
full of wondrous forms, which lay, as if by magic, before me. 
I once again felt the same delighted surprise which had 
overpowered me when I first landed on the South American 
continent; but I now seemed to be transported to a new 
quarter of the globe, amongst the Proteacem of Africa and 
New Holland and the MdaleuceoB of the East Indies and 
Australia. The leathery, stiff leaves, the curiously coiled 
branches, the strange large flowers of various forms, the 
dazzling colour of these — all were essentially different in 
character from all vegetation that I had before seen. I did 
not know whether to look first at the wax-like gay flowers of 
certain species of Thibaudiaj Befaria^ and Archytaea^ or at 
the large, camellia-like flowers of a Bonnetia^ or whether to 
fasten my eyes on the flower-loaded plants of various kinds of 


Melastomaj Aholhoday Vochyaiaj Temstromiaj AndromedUy 
Clv^aiaj Kidmeyeraf or on the various new forms of Sobraliay 
OncidiuTay Cattleya^ Odontoglosaumy and Epidendroriy 
which covered the blocks of soft sandstone — and there were 

very many plants not at the time in flower Every 

step revealed something new.' 

To the ethnologist also the district will prove interesting ; 
for it is so remote and unexplored that the Arecuna Indians, 
who chiefly inhabit it, are in a very unusually primitive con- 
dition — for instance, they alone still sometimes use stone, 
instead of iron, girdles for baking purposes ; and, moreover, 
the strangeness of Roraima seems to have made deep impres- 
sions on the minds of these Indians, and to have filled their 
thoughts with folk-lore to an unusual extent. 

In short, there is a great reward in store for the traveller, 
whether he be botanist or ethnologist, who, having sufficient 
pecuniary means, will first gain experience of the ways of 
travelling in that part of the world, so that his knowledge of 
ordering an expedition may be as precise as possible, and will 
then go to Roraima prepared, at all costs, to spend as long a 
time in the district as may enable him to make his way 
slowly round the mountain ; and his labours will possibly re- 
sult, as no other means can, in the discovery of a way even 
to the top of Roraima. 

A few words will not be out of place as to the best way 
of approaching the mountain. Schomburgk, Brown, and £d- 
dington visited it by going up the Essequibo and Roopoonooni 
to the neighbourhood of Pirara, a route which I have already 
described, and then making their way northward to the 
mountain ; McTurk and Boddam-Wetham went up the 
Mazeruni and then walked southward to the mountain. 
But there is a way, as yet untried, which I am convinced 
will prove &r more practicable. This is up to Potaro and 
from there westward across the savannah. I have already 
described the journey up the Potaro as feu: as the Kaieteur 
fell; and it is evident that there need be no great diffi- 
culty in taking boats of considerable size up to that point. 


There a depot should be fonned. Small boats might either 
be carried past the &]l and launched on the Potaro above the 
Kaieteur, or these might be procured from the Ackawoi 
Indians who live above, but at some distance from, the fall ; 
and thus the expedition might proceed by water yet farther 
in the direction of Boraima. The walk across the savannah 
from the point where it may be necessary to leave the river 
would be shorter and almost certainly less laborious than the 
corresponding walk by either of the other routes. 

But, as my last word on this subject, I must strongly 
warn any against approaching Roraima without first fully 
weighing the difficulty and the cost. 




Common Mlflconception of Tropical Scenery — The Special Case of Gniana 
— General Type of Foliage like that of Temperate Climates — Colooiing 
of the FoliB^e—Colonr of Flowers in Mass — Beanty of Individual 
Flowers — Scent — Chief Types of Quiana V^etation — A Scene in the 
Forest — Palm Forests — Biver-side Vegetation — The Cokerite Palm — 
Savannah Scenery — Water Plants. 

The appearance of a countrj which has been little modified 
by the hand of man, depends, in very great measure, upon 
its vegetation. Much has lately been written on the real, as 
opposed to the commonly conceived, appearance of tropical 
vegetation. But men in temperate regions are still apt to 
think that tropical plant-life blazes with gorgeous colour, and 
is composed almost exclusively of quaint forms. Two fa llacies, 
as to colour and as to form, are involved in this conception. 
The spread of the colour-fallacy is due to the fact that it is the 
more gorgeous plants which, being selected from an infinitely 
greater number of less brilliant hue, are grouped together 
in our glass-houses. The form-fallacy has arisen partly from a 
similar cause, but chiefly from the fancy sketches of tropical 
scenery made by artists, lliis latter source of error may be 
well studied, for example, in certain pictures of Guiana 
scenery by a German named Carl Appun, a botanist and a 
draughtsman of some merit, who lived for some years in the 
interior, and who has furnished almost the only attamable 
pictures, drawn on the spot, of that scenery. In these pic- 
tures palms and other plants of forms strange to temperate 
regions, occupy the whole scene. Appun knew how to draw 
plants, Fo that even in his most crowded compositions it is 


possible to recognise the species of each individual plant ; but 
his pictures are no true records of the scenery, because in 
them, much as the gardener does in his hothouse, he grouped 
only the most striking plants, and entirely omitted all such 
as are but little distinguished in character or size of foliage 
from the plants of temperate regions. In correction of the 
false views thus spread Mr. Wallace's careful analysis of 
tropical scenery in general, in his admirable essay on Tropical 
Nature, is of great value. The purpose of the present 
chapter is to supplement, as far as may be, that general ac- 
count by representing the most characteristic aspects of the 
special plant-^life of Guiana. 

The forests and woods of Gruiana, which, it must always 
be remembered, are situated at a very low level above the 
sea, are mainly composed of trees and shrubs of much the 
same general type, as regards both form of growth and of 
foliage, as our own Spanish chestnuts, oaks, acacias, and 
laurels. Three things must, however, be remembered in 
thus transferring in imagination our own forms of vegetation 
to the tropics ; and these are, in the first place, that in the 
tropics, the trees and plants of all sorts are generally on a 
much more gigantic scale, and that this rank growth and, 
especially at this low level, the absence of small neat^grow- 
ing plants, such as elsewhere carpet the ground and fill up 
the spaces, gives an impression of weediness ; secondly, 
that the light being much more intense, the spaces within 
the gigantic outlines of the scenery are seen in even exagge- 
rated bareness and nakedness ; and thirdly, that scattered 
among these familiar forms a large number of novel forms 

Starting with this general idea of the vegetation, it will 
be convenient, first, to consider the three special points, as to 
the occurrence of colour, of novel and striking forms, and of 
scents, and then to draw, as far as may be done in words, a 
few typical scenes of vegetable life in the forest and on the 

The general colour of the forest is due rather to the 


various shades of the leaves than to any wide scattering of 
flowers. Yet at no time is the Guiana leafage as splendid 
as in an ordinary English wood either in the early spring or 
in the glorious golden autumn time. But, on the other hand, 
the tropical forest throughout the year is more variously 
coloured in this respect than is the English wood at any other 
time than spring or autumn. This peculiarity of the tropical 
forest is due partly to the fact that, without special season 
either for the bursting or the fall of leaves, throughout the year 
it has trees both putting out new leaves, white, or brilliantly 
tinted with green, pink, or red, and others from which drop 
leaves with red, yellow, and bronze colours burned deeply 
into them by the blazing sun ; and partly to the fact that in 
it trees of innumerable kinds, each with foliage at least 
slightly distinct in colour, grow intermingled, and not, as is 
usual in lands of beech or oak forests and fir coppices, in 
more or less distinct groups. The whole amount of colour 
aflForded by flowers is probably not very different in tropical 
and temperate trees, but is differently distributed. With 
flowers, just and for the same reasons as with remarkable 
leaves, those in temperate climates are all gathered into the 
springtime and into particular spots, whereas in Guiana they 
are scattered throughout the year and on single trees through 
the forest ; so that in the latter place, though no sheet of 
flower such as decorates an apple or cherry orchard or a 
hawthorn thicket in spring is ever seen, yet throughout the 
year, though more frequently in the wet than in the dry season, 
trees as fiilly covered with flowers as any individual apple, 
cherry, or hawthorn, may be remarked, like huge nosegays, in 
the leafy, otherwise unflowery forest. It must be added that 
this description of the flowers of Guiana refers only to those of 
the trees or shrubs, and that there is never there a growing 
carpet of flowers, such as is made in England by primroses 
and anemones, by wild hyacinths and dog violets in the 
woods, or by marsh marigolds and red fritillary bells in the 
water meadows, or by heather and gorse on the moors. 

The splendour of colour of many single tropical trees, 



heightened by contrast with the green of the surrounding 
forest, is most vividly present in my mind. No effect of 
colour could be more brilliant than a hackia tree {Tecoma^ 
sp.?), the leafless branches of which, standing high above the 
surrounding forest, were covered and weighed down by dense 
masses of golden-yellow flowers, gleaming with a wonderful 
and almost dazzling brilliance against a pale, clear blue sky ; 
or than a male Long- John (Triplaris surinaToensia) loaded 
with flowers, arranged in great plumes, like, but much larger 
than, bunches of lilac, at first creamy-white in colour, but 
afterward, as the florets grow old, taking a beautiful red tinge ; 
or than the same tree when each floret, shaped like a tiny 
parachute, falling with many twirls to the groimd, fills even 
the air with flowers ; or than the hipponai {Parkia pendvla^ 
perhaps the most beautiful plant I can remember, its branches 
arranged in tiers after the manner of the Cedar of Lebanon, 
its finely cut acacia-shaped foliage very dark in colour, while 
from the end of each branchlet hangs, at the end of a long 
pliant whip, three or four feet long, a globe of crimson flowers — 
these flowers, because of the regular strata-like arrangement 
of the branches, hanging in deep even fringes from the outer 
edge of each shady branch ; or than another tree, of a kind 
unknown to me, covered with a dense mass of pale mauve 
flowers, which I once saw in strangely harmonious contrast 
against a grey, rainy-looking sky ; or than a curiously coloured 
purple pea-flower {Calopoffium ccervl&um) which climbs 
and flowers so abundantly over certain small trees that it 
appears from a distance Uke an odd smoke-coloured light ; 
or than another creeper {Norcmtea guianenaia) which runs, 
like fire, over the highest trees, throwing out many flame- 
like spikes of dense scarlet flowers, two or three feet long. 
Yet it must not be forgotten that these are only widely 
separated spots of colour, in a huge forest generally green. 

It will perhaps be noticed that this account of the dis- 
tribution of flowers in Gruiana hardly agrees with such stated 
ments of Mr. Wallace,^ applied apparently to tropical forests 

» Tropieal NcAwre (by A. B. Wallace, 1878), p. 61. 


in general, as that in which he says that * conspicuous masses 
of showy flowers are so rare that weeks and months may be 
passed without observing a single flowering plant worthy of 
special admiration.' That a mian, if he confined himself 
quite strictly to the shadiest parts of the forest, might pass 
weeks or months without seeing a single plant of striking 
beauty might be just possible ; yet, in Guiana at least, he 
must never during this period enter the many open spaces 
formed by rivers and streams, or by the &11 of large trees, or 
he will be in danger of seeing on an average at least one 
beautiful mass of flowers in each twenty-four hours. In 
short, the old tropical faila/cy was great ; but the reaction 
against it, exemplified in Mr. Wallace's essay, has been 
slightly exaggerated. 

The beauty of individual flowers, as distinct from masses, 
is more frequently noticeable in Guiana; for not only are all 
those flowers which have been described above, and many 
others which might be added to the Ust, beautiful individu- 
ally as well as in the mass, but there are others, and far more, 
which, though distributed too sparingly on their plants, or 
growing in too un&vourable a light, to make any great show, 
are individually as delicately beautifid or as splendid as any 
that are arranged in a florist's bouquet. The flowers are lost 
in the forest. For example, a man may, as I know, pass 
by a posoqueria shrub without noticing that it is in flower, 
because the white flowers and orange fruits are not very 
distinguishable among the many small flecks of intense light 
which make their way into the deep shade under the forest ; 
but if he does stop to examine this plant, he will find amongst 
its laurel-shaped leaves the most beautiful white flowers, of 
wax-like texture, like but larger than those of jasmine, each 
at the end of a very long white tube. This is only one out of 
innumerable instances that might be found even under the 
shade of the forest ; while at the sides of the river openings, 
in the forest glades, and especially on the savannahs, the 
number of individually beautiful flowers is very far greater. 

We now pass from colour to form. In describing the 


ordinary types of trees as akin to those of temperate lands, 
it was stated that among these are scattered many striking 
forms quite or almost peculiar to the tropics. In now de- 
scribing these, the first to claim notice are the creepers, 
which mat together the whole forest, and pass in inextric- 
able confusion from trunk to trunk and over the tops of the 
trees. Not only are these immensely more numerous, but 
very many of them are very distinct in character, espe- 
cially in the form of their stems, from the creepers of 
temperate climates ; some have stems like broad ribands, 
either tightly stretched, or with their edges fluted in a 
most extraordinary way; others are very regularly spiral, 
and yet others are twisted round each other as evenly 
as if by human art. Many kinds of palms occur in places, 
some species singly, others in thickets, and others massed 
in numbers even large enough to deserve the name of 
forest; so that while in some places none of these plants 
are visible, in others many individuals of one species fill the 
scene. Of the erect palms, the leaves of which spring from 
a common centre, generally from the top of a more or less 
lofty and stout stem, those with fan leaves are, with the ex- 
ception of one very common species {Mauritia fiexuosa) 
extremely rare ; those with feather leaves form the bulk, 
and one of these {MaodmiLiaTia regia) has its leaflets so 
arranged almost spirally round the midrib that the whole leaf 
is rather plume-like than feather-Uke ; another {Manicaria 
aaccifera) has an enormous oblong entire leaf, not split into 
leaflets. But, beside these erect palms, there are others 
which climb {DesTnoncua)^ their feathered leaves branching oflF 
along the whole stem. Another -phxit {Car lud<yvicapluinieri) 
— not a palm, but very similar in appearance — creeps like ivy 
up the trunks of trees. After the palms, the genera that 
figure most largely in the ordinary fancy picture of tropical 
scenery are those plants with large, very bold, simply oblong 
leaves, the best known of which are the bananas and plan- 
tains, and of which certain very small forms, the cannas, 
are now commonly seen in English gardens. These banana- 


leaved plants do figure, in places, largely in Guiana scenery. 
The most striking among them is the so-called wild plan- 
tain {RavencUa guianensia), a second species of the far- 
famed * Traveller's Tree of Madagascar,' the enormous leaves 
of which rise from near the ground to a height of ten to 
fifteen feet. The bases of their leaf-s^talks sheath, the one 
over the other, and in the pockets formed by each of these 
sheathing parts much rain-water is retained even through 
the dry season, which water, having often served to quench 
the thirst of travellers, has gained for the Madagascar 
plant one of its English names. Another noticeable enough 
feature in these plants is that the seeds within the tough 
thin shell of the fruit are packed in a large quantity of 
short fibrous substance like clippings of wool, in the Guiana 
species of brightest scarlet colour, but in the Madagascar 
plant of blue. Much smaller, but similar plants are the 
Helioonice ; and yet smaller are various species of Maranta, 
or rather lachnosiphoUy the tough, dark-green oval leaves 
of which are raised on a cane-like stem. The leaves of 
the latter plants serve the Indians in place of wrapping 
paper, for many purposes, and the stems are woven by the 
same people into baskets. Wild pine-apples {Ananassa, 
Bromeliaj &c.\ and other similar but much larger plants, 
each being but a great rosette of long, pointed, saw- 
edged leaves, grow singly or in small groups on the more 
sandy parts of the forest floor. Aloe-like plants are very 
rare ; a few occur scattered widely over the savannah, and 
one form, the largest Bromeliad in the world, grows in such 
dense masses on one particular plateau that it constitutes the 
whole prospect. Among ferns there is no need for much men-^ 
tion of the low-growing herb-like forms, such as are familiar 
in temperate lands. They are enormously abundant through- 
out Guiana, the chief forms being various species of Adian- 
tumy Lvndsayay Polyj>odium, Acrostichum^ and, above all, 
the lovely little filmy ferns, Trichomanea and Hymenophyl- 
lum. But three forms, occurring in Guiana, which belong 
more especially to the tropics, are the tree-ferns, the climbing 


and the creeping ferns. Tree-ferns occur abundantly in 
certain higher sandstone tracts in the far interior, but &r 
more sparingly in the forest near the coast, where, however, 
they are sometimes seen in thickets {AlsophUa aspera), 
sometimes singly {Hemitelia Tnacrocarpa and others). The 
true climbing ferns, with delicately cut leaves, support 
themselves after the manner of hops on the low shrubs 
{Lygodium). But there are others which, growing in 
shrubless places and finding no support, allow their branches 
to grow into a dense self-supporting bush, perhaps six feet 
high (Oleichenia), which grows on rocky banks, exposed to 
the full blaze of the sun, covering these places with a dense 
mass of beautifully fretted foliage ; and another, but much 
rarer, fern of similar habit is Oleamdra hirteUa^ which has 
a long, upright, and firm irtem, so stiff as not to need support, 
crowned with lance-shaped leaves. Yet other ferns {Poly- 
podium and others) creep like ivy up the tree-trunks ; and 
even some filmy ferns have this habit. Club mosses {Selagi- 
nella and Lycopodiurfi) often carpet the ground under the 
forest. True mosses are scarce. The striking heart-shaped 
leaves of aroids, too, are firequently seen. One of the com- 
monest plants of Guiana, which is indeed hardly ever absent 
from any shallow water, is the moco-moco, an aroid (Cafe- 
dium arhorescens) with leaves like that of the well-known 
Calla, borne at the top of a long stick-like stem often fi"om 
ten to twelve feet high. Here and there on the ground in 
the more open parts of the forest the green, bright^red or 
white-spotted leaves of Caladiums^ so well known in English 
hothouses, are seen; and, growing epiphytically both on 
standing and fallen trees, are large numbers of other aroids, 
the leaves of some of them pierced with regular window- 
like openings {Monstera obliqua). Passing from these 
to the masses of other epiphytes which load the trees, 
the most striking of these are the TiUandsiaSj mostly like 
wild pine-apples, but one curiously distinct fonh (T. uane" 
oides)^ which hangs in large masses like long streamers of 
grey wool, swaying in the wind from the outer branches of 


the trees, produces a most weird effect ; the duaias, with 
larger or smaller leathery leaves, like those of the well-known 
India-mbber plant (Ficus ela8tica\ which first grow in some 
fork of the branches high up in the trees, and then send long, 
unbranched, rope-like roots straight down to the ground ; 
and the orchids. The number of the latter plants in Gtiiana 
is enormous ; some few grow on the ground, but the greater 
number are epiphytic. One, the vanilla plant, creeps like 
ivy. The quaint but unlovely general character of the 
plants is too well known to need description ; their flowers, 
though many of them are individually of exceeding beauty, 
are in nature seldom suflSciently numerous to attract atten- 

One class of plants which is generally conspicuous in 
tropical scenery is somewhat rarely noticeable in Guiana. 
These are the bamboos. The large, splendidly graceful 
clumps of bamboos — ^more graceful, as it appears to me, than 
any other form of vegetation^-chiefly appear in Guiana near 
places now or once inhabited, and were therefore probably 
introduced. Other species — ^their feathery stems scattered 
instead of springing in definite clumps — are more widely 
scattered, but are seldom suflSciently numerous or remark- 
able to affect the character of the scenery. 

The subject of the perfiimes of plants in Guiana requires 
but few words. Strong sweet scent is a much more marked 
feature throughout the interior than is brilliant colour. 
Many of the trees, though carrying inconspicuous flowers, 
yet load the whole air with a perfume almost too powerful. 
The long white-flowered Posoqueriaj already mentioned, is 
one of many plants as strongly scented as Stephanotis ; and 
when the large yellow flowers are on the vanilla vines their 
scent may be distinguished from far off. Even the highest 
trees of the forest, which lift their flowers so far from the 
ground that their beauty is invisible, and their scent for a 
time imperceptible, yet afterwards, when they drop their 
flowers, make the odour in the forest at first really sweet, 
and then, as decay sets in, sickly sweet. Another source of 


perfume lies in the numberless resins which exude from the 
trees. Where the hyawa tree {Idea heptaphylla) grows, 
the whole air for some distance round is pleasant and 
wholesome with the incense-like odour of the white resin 
that drops from its stem, and falls in masses to the ground ; 
and a still more powerfully scented resin, which coats the 
trunk of another tree, the tauranero of the Indians (Humi- 
Hum, Jhribundurriy Mart.), seems to imitate and surpass the 
odour of vanilla. 

Having in these general considerations provided the 
necessary materials, as a painter provides colour, brushes, 
and canvas, I shall now attempt to describe a few special 
pictures of plant-life, some from the forest region, others 
from the savannah ; and thus try to give as true a notion as 
may be of the appearance of the land. In so doing it will 
hardly be necessary to notice the coast region, for the obvious 
reason that the greater part of this has been much modified 
by the hand of man, whereas we are now regarding only 
natural conditions ; and for the same reason the forest pic- 
tures will be taken, not from that part which has been de- 
scribed as the timber tract, most of which has at some time 
been deprived of its finest trees by the hand of man, but 
from the more remote virgin forest. It may, however, be 
noted that the most remarkable difference between the timber 
tract and the virgin forest is that the space under the forest 
roof is in the former place much filled with shrubs and 
lower trees, while in the latter place it is much more open. 

Let us first suppose ourselves to stand far from any 
opening, somewhere in the deep shade under the unbroken 
forest roof. The eye is first attracted by the enormous 
girth and various character of the tree-trunks. Many of 
these for some distance from the ground are not columnar, 
but formed by many board-like natural buttresses, radiating 
from a common centre, between any two of which several 
men may often stand ; these buttresses run so far up the 
trunk that if the tree is to be felled, this being impossible 
near the ground, a platform, sometimes twenty or thirty feet 


high, has first tx) be built round the tree, above the point 
where the buttresses unite to form a trunk of the ordinary 
pillar-like form ; and from this platform the woodcutters ply 
their axes against the trunk, at that height circular and of 
moderate dimensions. The largest of these buttressed trees 
are the moras, the commonest tree of the colony. But 
among the two or three moras which are in sight, there 
are other trunks of every degree of circumference — some of 
the familiar pillar-like form, others like the clustered shafts 
of a stone pillar, apparently made up of a number of small 
coalescent trunks ; most are smooth, but on some there are 
curious prickles, each supported on a separate tumour on 
the bark, and on others clusters of star-like or pea-shaped 
flowers and pods (Swartzia), spring directly from the bark 
of the trunk or branches. Up the trunks there are a few 
isolated tendrils of various creeping plants, some with curi- 
ously spotted and marked leaves. There are no large palms 
in sight, but on the right there is a tangled thicket of small 
erect palms {Oeonoma bdcculifera) eight or nine feet high, 
with a smooth, many-jointed, light-coloured stem, familiar 
in the form of a walking-stick, and with a few simple or 
slightly feathered leaves. Here and there there are also a 
few other palms {Bactria trico8patha\ hardly taller, growing 
singly, each with a very slender and straight prickly stem 
supporting a crown of a few delicately feathered leaves. 
There are but very few shrubs visible, or anything but the tree- 
trunks to impede the view at the level of the eye. Looking 
up the tree-trunks the eye travels far, past many clumps of 
epiphytal plants, past the forkings of the first branches, 
and yet higher up to the dark, impenetrable roof of leaves, 
before it perceives the enormous height of the trees. From 
the roof hang down tangled masses of innumerable creepers, 
here leafless, for their leafy parts lie above the tops of the 
trees. On these hanging creeper-ropes one or two enormous 
masses of epiphytes are perched. Then the eye, looking 
down on to the floor, is struck by the scarcity of moss and 
other small plants such as carpet temperate woods ; here the 



ground in many places consists only of bare mud, or is 
covered only by a few dead leaves or fallen fruits and 
branches ; only in a very few and small patches is it car* 
peted by dense masses of seedling trees a foot or two high, 
among which grow a few herbaceous ferns and club-mosses 
{SelagiTieUa). On a heap of dead leaves grow one or two 
tiny parasitic gentians {Voyria), the flowers of which are to 
be described not so much as white, but rather as colourless, 
supported on short wiry stems, leafless, and of the same 
colourless aspect. Lastly, a huge prostrate tree-trunk is 
half-buried under epiphytal plants, orchids, wild pine-apples, 
and aroids. 

It is diflBcult to obtain a view of the outside of the roof 
of the forest, but it may sometimes, as has been said in a 
former chapter, be seen from the top of some steep-sided 
hill rising above the forest. Standing on such a place as 
that one looks on to a level sea of tree-tops, a mass of very 
various foliage most closely woven together by innimierable 
creepers. Both of the trees and the creepers, some indivi- 
duals may sometimes be seen made gorgeous with flowers, but 
these are better seen from the level ground in some opening 
in the forest. It is on these tree-tops, exposed to the fiill 
blaze of the sun, that many of the finest orchids grow ; but 
their small size, and the distance from which it is alone 
possible to view them in their natural positions, prevent 
them forming a feature in the landscape. 

Where many species of palms are gathered together 
in any one spot in the forest the scene has a very distinct 
character* The most common of these social palms is the 
aeta (Mauritia fiexuo8a\ which, though it occasionally grows 
singly at the river-side, its seed having probably been placed 
by the current, grows more generally in large numbers 
either in some swampy part of the forest, or entirely filling 
some moist valley on the savannah. A large seta swamp 
in the forest is a curious and somewhat gloomy place. 
There are hardly any other trees or plants. The simple 
massive trunks, free for some distance from the ground from 

PALMS. 99 

all litter, but crowned with giant fan-leaves, of which some 
hang down, withered and brown, round the upper part of 
the trunk, rise at some distance from each other, each from 
a hillock of fallen leaves ; and between the hillocks stretches 
the bare black mud, through which narrow streams of dark 
red water wind in places. The leaves of the palms interlock 
and make a roof and a thick shade hardly less dense than 
that elsewhere in the forest. Occasionally a fallen trunk lies 
like a bridge, from one hillock to another, and in other 
places there are a few young palms, stemless as yet, their 
leaves rising straight from the mud. As far as one can see, 
looking between the trunks, the^ scene is continued as it is 
in the foreground. A swamp filled by the troolie palm 
{Manicaria sacdfera) is equally striking. In the north- 
western part of the colony, between the mouths of the 
Orinoco and Essequibo, large stretches of land are occupied 
almost exclusively by this palm, the immense leaves of 
which, uncut into leaflets, and sometimes from twenty to 
thirty feet long by five broad, meet overhead, and thus 
maintain a constant gloom and a damp and humid atmo- 
sphere round their stems, which is very favourable to the 
growth of small ferns. It is while standing in a troolie 
forest up to one's knees in the level floor of palm cUbris, and 
looking up at the almost monstrously gigantic leaves, that 
one most realises the effect of tropical vegetation. 

The most graceful of all the palms of Guiana, the mani- 
cole {Euterpe eduli8\ grows in masses at the sides of most 
rivers ; but in places it also occupies whole swamps. These 
diffier principally from the seta swamps, in that the mani- 
cole grows, not singly but in groups, consisting of many 
graceftiUy bent slender stems of very various heights, each 
raised on a common dense mass of exposed roots. These 
groups arise in this way. A single seed takes root and sends up 
a single stem ; after a time a new stem buds out from the 
base of the original stems, and this happens again and again 
until the whole group, or plant, perhaps, consists of a dozen 
stems of various ages. And as the number of the stems in- 

H 2 


creases, more and more supporting roots are sent out, and 
these in time get welded into a great mass, which gradually 
pushes up the crown, and lifts the stems far into the air. 
Because of their most feathery foliage and the grouping of 
the slender stems, each clump of these palms is a thing of 
exquisite beauty; and the swamp in which many of these 
clumps stand as islands has none of the solemnity of the 
aeta or troolie swamp, but rather is full of light and cheer- 

A much rarer palm, which also sometimes grows in con- 
siderable quantity in swamps within the forest, though hardly 
ever entirely occupying such places, is the booba {Iriartea 
exorrhiza). It grows so often scattered singly in manicole 
swamps that one or two may well be inserted in any picture of 
such a place. Each straight single stem of the booba, instead 
of rising directly from the ground, is supported high in air 
on many much and widely forked prickly roots, sometimes 
eight or nine feet high ; each leaflet of its feathered leaves is 
triangular, like those of a maidenhair fern, and is set on to 
the midrib at a peculiar angle, which gives to the whole 
crown of leaves a most plume-like eflfect. 

One other palm, rare in Gruiana, but which grows within 
the forest in at least one place in considerable numbers, is 
an Orbigignia^ of a species new to science, which Professor 
Trail of Aberdeen has named 0. Sagotii. It grows among 
trees and shrubs of the ordinary type, but its huge feathered 
leaves, in that they are not raised as in other palms, on a trunk, 
but spring directly from the ground, have a peculiar eflFect. 

Passing out of the forest into some open space, either a 
river-course or a glade, the edge of the forest as seen from 
here presents a very diflFerent aspect. We will suppose our- 
selves to look at it from some river. 

The character of the river-side vegetation within reach of 
the tide dififers somewhat from that which prevails in the 
higher parts. Generally in the former parts the true forest 
does not extend to the open river, but between the two a belt 
of mangrove trees {Rhizophora mangal) stands, raised high 


above the mud flat on aerial roots, except where in one or 
two places a projecting spur of the higher real bank runs 
out above the mud, through the mangroves, into the river, 
these banks being clothed by a dwarf palm {Bdctria paluatris) 
so densely packed that the bold feathered leaves completely 
hide the stems, and the whole look like high, swelling banks 
of ferns. In the shallow water of the bays between these 
banks and the lines of mangroves numbers of eucharis-like 
lilies raise over the water their grassy leaves and clusters of 
large delicate, sweet-scented flowers, sometimes pure white 
{Crinuvfi co7rvnidy7ia\ sometimes with the white relieved by 
red-stained anthers {Hymenocallia guia/nensia). 

It is somewhat difficult to describe a piece of the bank 
along the higher parts of the river, for each stretch diflfers, 
yet differs but slightly, not so much in the plant-materials 
which compose it as in the way in which these materials are 
combined. In a typical stretch of river-bank three some- 
what different phases of vegetation are chiefly discernible : 
one where the bank has not within any recent period either 
been increased or decreased by the action of the passing river ; 
another where it has been washed away; and the third where 
it has had new soil added outside it. As the traveller faces the 
bank he may firom one place be able to notice aU these three 
phases : part of the bank is undisturbed ; part has recently been 
carried away, so that the river here has made its way into the 
forest, and runs immediately next to the forest wall ; and a 
little lower down the earth thus swept away has been again 
deposited, built up as it were in a spit of low land, which runs 
from the original, somewhat higher bank, out into the river. 

Where the bank has been undisturbed the forest leafage 
slopes in beautifully rounded curves down to the water's 
edge, trees shrubs and creepers being all blended into one ; 
and the curve is continued and repeated without the 
slightest break in the almost perfectly faithful reflection in 
the water. No single plant is distinctly seen in the mass^ 
and the general monotony is broken only by some isolated 
patch of colour. Yet, on the other hand, many individual 


flowers and seeds attract the observant eye. In one place, 
for example, a number of large pods hang each at the end of 
a whip-like stem some two feet in length, and again, a very 
curious green flower, shaped like the spokes of a wheel, are 
sure to attract notice ; but so confused is the mass that it is 
long before it is possible to determine that the former belong 
to a tree (Eperua falcata\ the latter to a creeper {Marc- 
gravia umbellata). In short, the whole is one confused 
rounded mass of innumerable plant-forms. 

Where the bank has been broken away, in place of 
the rounded mass of the foliage, the trunks of the outermost 
trees of the forest rise like a wall, straight from the surface 
of the river. The creepers, which before the bank gave way 
ran among the tree-leaves up from the water and away over 
the roof of the forest, have now already sent down tendrils 
towards the water ; and these, weaving themselves together, 
hang exactly like a drawn curtain, straight down from the 
outer edge of the tree-branches which project over the 
water. At certain seasons of the year this curtain of 
creepers is dyed with the most brilliant colours by the various 
flowers which it puts out. In one place, the wall of trees 
and creepers is broken by a magnificent palm, a cokerite 
(Maximiliana regia). This plant is a study in itself. 
The word palm generally calls up before the mind a hardly 
varied picture of a more or less tall, more or less straight 
trunk from the top of which a few leaves branch oflF some- 
what at right angles; as a matter of fact, though such a 
description does roughly apply to the generality of palms, 
yet differences, slight in themselves, in the nature of the 
trunk, and in the set of the leaves and leaflets, give to each 
genus and often to each species a very distinct aspect. For 
instance, this cokerite could never be mistaken from any 
distance for any other palm occurring in Guiana. It grows 
singly, though occasionally there are a good many near to- 
gether. Sometimes, in old plants, the stem is clear and 
columnar for some little distance from the ground, but upward 
from this, or much more often from the ground itself, the 


bases of the stalks of former leaves remam, encircling the 
stem, and these adherent remnants of stalks are longer and 
longer higher up the tree till the present green leaves are 
reached, and these, set not at any acute angle to the stem 
below them, but at a very obtuse angle, rise high into the 
air till at the very top, they curve very gradually and grace- 
fully outward. The whole shape of the tree is, in fact, that 
of a cornucopia-shaped vase, which rises from a narrow base 
and curves outward. The leaves themselves are feathered, 
but the many long grassy leaflets axe thickly set on the 
midrib at a peculiar angle; and these, straight for some 
distance, then hang their ends loosely down, so that the 
whole leaf has the aspect, not, as usual among feathered 
palms, of a flat feather, but rather of a curled plume. The 
plant is made yet more beautiful by the tact that among the 
remnants of leaves on its stem some ferns have taken root 
(chiefly Nephrolepia acuta and Polypodium, decu7nanum\ 
and these mingle their green leaves with the great hanging 
bunches of yellow palm flowers and fruits. 

On the spit of new-forming land plants have already 
begun to grow, and the refuse from the first-coming plants is 
gradually building up soil for more enduring forms. Nearest 
the river, the spit is edged with a uniform belt of some par- 
ticular bush growing in the water, either guavas (Psidium 
aquaticwni and P. aroTnaticum), with white scented flowers 
and green-yellow, bitter- tasted fruits ; or mahoes {Hibiacua 
tiliaceu8)j with leaves like those of English lime-trees, and 
large pale primrose-coloured mallow-flowers with chocolate 
throats ; or inga (/. Trveiaanerioma^ et var. ap.), along every 
branchlet of which white flowers, like downy feathers, nestle 
thickly. Over these bushes twine not a few creepers, their 
roots on land, some with bright-coloured flowers, such as 
purple-white BignonUxa^ AlUmuj/adaa with huge yellow 
trumpet flowers, and a Gombretum with scarlet bottle- 
brush flowers. Behind this outer hedge the spit is, for 
some distance back, covered by a tangled mass of dwarfer 
vegetation, apparently of shrubs, but so completely clothed 


by convolvuluB (IpoTncsa) and other creepers that it 
is impossible to discern their kind. From among these 
shrubs rise a few single trumpet-wood trees (Cecropia 
peUcUd)^ the straight or but slightly branched stems of 
which, each crowned with a rosette of large maple-shaped 
leaves, spring up to a great height in a few months, and 
then, by their equally rapid decay, help largely in the forma- 
tion of soil for more permanent trees. Accordingly, yet 
further back, but still on the spit, a few Long-Johns 
{Triplaria auri/namensis) rise singly ; for these, less endur- 
ing than the true forest trees, but more so than the trumpet- 
woods, grow on the soil deposited by the latter, and in their 
turn prepare the soil for more noble products. Lastly, 
where the original bank begins, the dense forest wall serves 
as a background to all this ephemeral vegetation. 

One other very characteristic river-side picture must be 
given. In this, as &r as the eye can see, the whole sandy bank 
is occupied by a dense thicket of souari palms {AstrocaTyum 
[yulgare ?],) their long grey stems slightly curved in various 
directions clear of hanging leaves, but horridly armed with 
long spines arranged in broad bands round the tree, their 
feathered 'greyish-green leaves also spiny, and the ground 
round their roots made impassable to naked feet by an 
unbroken carpet of heaped spines and spiny leafage. 

Passing from the forest tract to the savannah the 
characteristic scenery may easily be shown in a few pictures. 
The first is taken from the great savannah of the interior. 
The scene is bounded towards the right by a distant chain of 
mountains, on the face of which bare cliflFs and wooded slopes 
mingle ; toward the left the plain rolls away until it meets 
the horizon. The land is not unlike those wider parts of the 
English downs where the rolling surface is broken by a few 
stunted hawthorns or clumps of tall furze. But in the 
hollows between the ridges of the savannah, instead of the 
fir, beech, and hazel coppices of the English downs, there are 
long, regular-looking groves of seta paJms or belts of 
other tropical trees. The aeta forest is like that which haa 


already been described. The shrubs are windblown, but 
many of them bear bright flowers. Commonest of all among 
the shrubs are hard-leaved, yeUow-flowered species of Curor- 
teUa^ Here and there the highest ground is so thickly 
covered by these shrubs that it looks almost well wooded. 
In parts the soil is somewhat exposed and stony ; but even 
here there are numbers of a curious low-growing plant 
(Scirpus parddoxvs), with a thick swollen trunk, like that 
of a tree fern, sminounted by a dense rosette of very fine 
grass-like leaves. In other places there is high and luxuriant 
grass, among which mix many bright flowers, chiefly white, 
red, blue, and yellow pea-flowers, and even a few ground 
orchids. One great stretch of ground is entirely covered 
with a cabbage-like plant, with great bunches of yellow 
flowers {Byrsonvma). A second savannah picture shows 
more sandy ground, a coppice not far off forming a back- 
ground. On the loose sand there are many scattered tufts 
of coarse grass, and amongst these stand a few tall straggling 
plants (Jatropha urena) with inconspicuous flowers and 
hemp-like leaves, which, when touched, sting more sharply 
than any nettle. 

Of the scenery of the somewhat different and peculiar 
sandstone part of the savannah, lying between the Kaieteur 
fall and Boraima, I have told elsewhere. 

Before leaving the subject it must be mentioned that 
there are certain water plants which are so striking and in 
places so abundant that in themselves they make scenes. 
Two of these {Mauriera fiumatUia and Leeds alata) grow on 
the half-submerged rocks in most of the falls. As the water 
decreases in the dry season, the tall spikes of bright pink 
flowers of the former plant rise from their large leaves, the 
edges of which are cut and curled into the likeness of moss, 
which lie flat on the rocks ; and at the same time and place 
innumerable tiny pink stars rise an inch or two over the 
equally moss-like leaves of the Lads. A rapid, apparently 
encircled by the forest, and with its rocks all reddened by 
these flowers, is very beautiful and noticeable. 




General ConBlderations — MftmTnn.lg — Warracaba Tigers — The Colours of 
Birds — Bird-notes — Chief Forms of Birds — Scenes of Bird-Life — Eep- 
tiles — Alligators — ^Iguanas — Snakes — Turtles — Fish — The Dangers of 
Bathing — Insect Plagues — Butterflies — Beetles — ^Ants — Wasps— Mos- 
quitoes — Sandflies — The Mosquito Worm — Jiggers — Bush-Ticks — 
Spiders — Centipedes — Scorpions. 

In a tropical country so varied as regards physical features 
as British Guiana, and so sparingly inhabited by man, it 
will naturally be supposed that animal life, both in its 
beautiful and its baneful forms, is very abundant. This is 
indeed the case ; but yet animal life is not in any marked 
degree prominent, nor, with the exception perhaps of insect 
ravages, is it in any way troublesome. It is not surprising 
that the ordinary colonist, who generally lives in the more 
inhabited parts of the coast land, should not see much 
wild animal life around him ; but the traveller in the inte- 
rior, even if he is in search of wild beasts, cannot avoid a 
feeling of surprise that so few of these present themselves 
unsought to his notice, and that he has to search so dili- 
gently before he finds others. The untravelled man, 
living in temperate climates, while he overcolours in his 
mind the picture of the brilliant birds, insects, and animals, 
thinks with horror, not only of the powerful savage animals — 
which are probably represented in his mind by beasts of prey 
and by gigantic or venomous serpents — but also of the thou- 
sand annoying insects and otheX such small cattle, which, 
as he imagines, everywhere lie in wait for the traveller, or 
even the dweller, in the tropics. If these imaginations were 


anywhere near the truth, it would indeed be a surprising 
thing that any man could long survive in the tropics. And 
if the man whom we have thus supposed to send his thoughts 
firom temperate to tropical regions is at last drawn by a fate 
which appears to him unkind to travel for a short time to these 
places detestable to him, he reaches home with a consciousness 
that he has seen too little of the expected beauty, and felt little 
of the expected evils ; and then, by a not unnatural reaction 
of thought, he is apt to regard all that he afterwards hears 
of the abundance, the beauty, or the annoyance of animal 
life in the tropics as merely the proverbial traveller's tale. 
And, unconsciously, travellers of greater experience help to 
confirm this erroneous view ; for when they tell their ex- 
periences to those at home, they tell only of moments made 
eventful to them by exciting or evil experiences, and leave 
unnoticed the long periods intermediate between such 
moments, in which nothing of any consequence occurred. 
For example, not long ago, I found at the end of an evening 
during which I had told adventures which had occurred to 
me, in the course of several years, with many sorts of harm- 
doing animals, from jaguars to mosquitoes, that the impres- 
sion made on the minds of my hearers was that life in 
Guiana, at any rate in the interior, is one long unending 
conflict with such foes ; and I had to correct this impression 
by pointing out that the story told that evening was, as one 
of my hearers expressed it, the concentrated misery of three 
years. In the same way it is dangerous to tell of the many 
beautiful and interesting animal forms, unless stress is laid 
on the fact that these are but picked out &om a large 
number of less interesting forms. Thus the traveller's true 
tale of his experiences, unless carefully guarded as I found 
necessary on the occasion just niientioned, helps to spread 
wrong impressions, both by helping to confirm those who 
are no travellers in their belief of the everywhere present 
beauty, and the incessant danger firom animal life, in the 
tropics, and by leading those who have travelled a little, 
generally in the more inhabited parts, to regard these new 



traveller's tales, and in consequence all other traveller's tales, 
as Mse, or at least as greatly exaggerated. 

Therefore, in telling of animal, as I have already of 
vegetable, life in Guiana, I want not only to show its real 
abundance and beauty, but also and equally to show its 
slight prominence and general harmlessness. And as in 
this respect Guiana may fairly enough be said to be typical, 
not only of other parts of South America, but also (due 
allowance being made for the fact that the animal forms of 
the American continent are as a rule smaller and less power- 
ful than those of the other continents) of other tropical 
regions, I should, if I could succeed in giving a correct 
impression of animal life as it affects man in Guiana, at the 
same time afford some idea of animal life in the tropics 

The number of mammals is somewhat large. It will be 
best to take them in the order of their abundance. 

The most prominent animals in Guiana are three rodents 
— ^the labba {Ccelogeny 8 paoa), the BXiO}xri{Da8yproctaaguti) 
and the water-haas {Hydrochoerue capybara). 

The labba, an animal like a large guinea-pig, with 
brown skin spotted with white, is distributed throughout the 
country on the banks of rivers. Its flesh is more esteemed 
than that of any other animal, not only by Indians, but 
also by the colonists ; indeed the latter have a proverb that 
* the man who has eaten labba and drunk creek water will 
never die out of the colony.' The labba lives during the 
day chiefly in hollow, fallen trees, and goes out to forage at 
night. The acourie, elsewhere called the aguti, is in appear- 
ance like a rabbit on long legs, and with coarse, chestnut- 
coloured hair. It is as abundant everywhere as the labba, 
but lives more in the forest, only venturing to the water 
to drink. It feeds by day on fallen fruits. There is a second 
species very similar, but smaller, called adourie (D. acuchy) 
only less common than the acourie. The water-haas, or 
capybara, is a much larger animal, which, like the labba, 
resembles a guinea-pig in shape, but is much larger 


even than the labba. It lives among the roots of trees 
in the mud at the river-side. It is a good swimmer, 
and it may not seldom be seen in the water. The skin 
of this animal seems to be especially adapted only for 
frequent immersion in water, for if exposed only for a 
short time to the sun, the outer skin (epidermis), with the 
coarse, scanty hair peels oflF in sheets, leaving the true skin 
{corium) exposed. All these animals, common as they are, 
are of retiring habits ; and the traveller, until he learns 
their ways and knows how to find them, may go for many 
days without seeing a single individual of any kind. 

Bush-hogs, or peccaries, of two kinds wander about in the 
swampy parts of the forests. The smaller of these {Dico- 
tyles torquatus), is called abouyah, the larger (D. labiatus) 
kairooni ^ by the Arawaks. The former kind lives in parties 
of five and six : the latter in large herds often of a hundred 
head. In a previous chapter * the habit of these animals of 
swimniing across rivers has been mentioned. In the day- 
time they take to the water without hesitation ; but if in 
their travels they reach the edge of a river at night, the herd 
settles down, after much commotion and grunting, to wait 
for daylight before crossing. It is sometimes dangerous to 
attack, single-handed, a herd of kairooni in the forest ; for 
they are apt to use their tusks with terrible efiect — they are 
even said to kill large jaguars in this way — and, if the 
attacker takes refuge in a tree, the pigs squat patiently 
round until sometimes he is either starved out or relieved by 
other men. 

Nor is the tapir {Tdpirua americanua) a rare animal. 
His tracks may often be seen at the side of the river, and I 
once saw a pond in the forest, the mud round which had 
been trodden by tapirs much as the edge of a pond in an 
English farmyard is by cattle. The animal itself is seldom 
seen, though it firequently ventures strangely near inhabited 

There are about a dozen species of monkeys, and some of 

> This is the " whinga " of the Macosis. ' See p. 54. 


these may frequently be seen. The pretty little bright- 
coloured sackawinki {Chrysothrix sdureua) lives in large 
herds which may often be seen on the trees by the river-side, 
the individuals generally following each other in single file, 
and, one after the other, hurling themselves for extraordinary 
distances from tree to tree. Very often they are quiet 
enough and would escape notice but for the rustling they 
maJke among the leaves. But if one is shot, the rest, instead 
of at once escaping, seem to the eyes of the astonished hunter 
suddenly to fill the tree with grinning faces, all chattering 
with more than the proverbial monkey garrulity. Next 
to these, the commonest monkey is that called in the 
colony the baboon, and elsewhere the red howling monkey 
{Mycetea senicivlv^), but which might much more aptly be 
called the red roarer ; for, though not bigger than a setter, 
it roars like any jaguar, tiger, or lion. Many travellers have 
tried, but fedled, to describe the sound produced by this extra- 
ordinary animal ; and I do not pretend to find the required 
words, though it seems to me that the sound is more like 
that which is heard when the beasts of prey in the Zoological 
Gardens are fed than anything else I ever heard. Why this 
animal should make this most extraordinary noise, being 
specially provided for the purpose with a peculiar bony 
apparatus in its throat, has, as far as I know, never been 
satisfactorily explained. The effect produced in the stillness 
of the night, or in the early morning, is utterly astounding ; 
and the noise is continued at intervals through the day. 

Three species of ant-bear, differing very much in general 
appearance, are all equally common. The largest of these 
(Myrmecoph^iga jubata) is a strange-looking animal, about 
the size of a large bloodhound, with an enormously bushy 
tail which, when reversed over the body, shelters the whole 
animal. This is sometimes found in the forest, but more 
commonly on the savannah. It is said to be capable of suc- 
cessfully defending itself against a man, by hugging him 
with its fore-feet and pressing its powerful claws into his body. 
The second (if. tamandtui)^ the size of a spaniel, with 


a smooth tail, is hardly ever seen except climbing on trees 
in the forest. And the third {M. didactyla\ a very gentle 
and pretty little creature, with a body no bigger than that 
of a toy-terrier, covered all over with soft silky short hair, is 
also found on trees in the forest, and occasionally near human 
habitations on the coast. 

All the cats, of which there are many species not fully 
determined in Guiana, are locally called ' tigers ' or, in the 
case of the smaller species, ^ tiger-cats.' Under these names 
are included the puma, and several species of jaguar and 
ocelots. The Indians assert that each kind hunts a different 

r- — 

prey. Thus, Fdia jaguarundi is called a hacka-tiger, 
because it is supposed to prey chiefly, if not exclusively, on 
the hacka {Oalictia barbara) ; the piuna is called the deer- 
tiger ; F. nigra is called the maipuri (tapir) tiger ; and F. 
macrura is called the abouyah (or peccary) tiger. All these 
are more or less common in G-uiana, though they are seldom 
seen by man. It is hardly possible to find an Indian house 
in which there are not teeth or portions of the skin of one of 
these species ; and on the cattle-fEirms on the Brazilian border, 
I was assured that hardly a night passes in which the cattle 
are not attacked by jaguars. Indians have a great dread of 
jaguars, and tell how these animals will sometimes even 
enter Indian houses and carry off a dog> or even an old 
woman or a child. Again and again when sleeping in the 
forest I have been waked by the Indians, who declared that 
there were jaguars about ; and I have known these Indians, 
in places where they supposed jaguars to be, ^ sling their 
hammocks high up in some tree, having first made a fire 
round its roots, and sleep aloft, leaving incredulous me to 
my fate below. On the other hand, though I have known 
a jaguar prowl round my hammock at night, I never knew 
them to attack a man. 

Some special mention must be made of certain real or 
mythical animals called warracaba tigers — as some say, from 
the resemblance of the noise made by these cats to the note 
of the warracaba bird or trumpeter {Paophia crepitans) ; or, 


as others say, from the purplish shade on the skin of these 
tigers, which is like the breast feathers of the bird ; or, as yet 
others say, from the feet that the tigers prey on the birds. 
Never having had any personal experience of warracaba tigers, 
I cannot present the conmion belief in them more graphically 
than by giving the following extract from the writings of a 
previous traveller in Gruiana.* * In the evening,' he writes, 
* I was attracted by our two dogs, which were tied up, bark- 
ing furiously, followed by a great stir in camp. Then some 
voices proclaimed loudly " The tigers are coming ; " and one 
man called to me to come down as quickly as possible to the 
boats, and bring my gun. . . • Jumping down the low bank, 
to my surprise I found the beach deserted. Where some 
twenty Indians had been encamped, there was now not even 
a hammock left ; all had suddenly and completely vanished. 
My men had all taken to the boat, and had it afloat, with its 
bow barely grounded, in readiness to shove oflF. They greeted 
me with cries of " Quick, sir, quick ! the warracaba tigers are 
coming ! " There was quite a flutter of relief amongst them 
when the boat was pushed oflF into mid-stream, when they 
all began to talk excitedly over our escape. The dogs still 
gave tongue, and were even more excited than the men, the 
hair on their backs standing erect as they sniffed the air in 
the direction of our camp. I eagerly inquired what were 
warracaba tigers, and was hastily informed that they were 
small and exceedingly ferocious tigers, that they hunted in 
packs, and were not frightened by camp fires, or anything 
except the barking of dogs. To water they have a special 
aversion, and will never cross a stream which is too wide for 
them to jump. ... I believe that some terrible animals had 
nearly pounced upon us, otherwise the Indians would never 
have acted as they had done. As we stopped, a shrill 
scream rent the night air, proceeding from the opposite side 
of the river, not two hundred yards above our camp, and, 
waking up echoes through the forest, died away as suddenly 
as it rose. This was answered by another cry coming from 

' C. B. BrowB, Canoe and Camp Life in British GvianOf p. 71. 


the depths of the forest, the interval between them being 
filled by low growls and trumpeting sounds. Gradually the 
cries became fainter and Mnter, as the band retired from our 
vicinity, till they utterly died away. Seeing nothing of 
them, and only hearing their diabolical screams, I pictured 
them in my mind as a withering Scourge sweeping through 
the forest. As many as a hundred are said to have been 
seen in one pack. They are said to frequent the mountains, 
but when pressed by hunger during the dry seasons they 
descend to the lowlands.' 

I was naturally anxious to learn something of these cats 
hunting in packs ; but I never myself met with them, and 
only found three men who professed to know anything about 
them. One of these three witnesses was my friend McTurk, 
a man thoroughly acquainted with the forest and its inhabit- 
ants, and incapable of telling what he did not believe. He 
told me that, while walking through the forest from the 
Essequibo to the Kaieteur fall, his Indian companions 
suddenly became terrified and declared that there were warra- 
cabas in the neighbourhood. Sounds were audible which 
McTurk thought were those of the warracaba bird. Shortly 
afterward, a single ' tiger,' a slim mouse-coloured beast, was 
seen ; but nothing else happened. The same informant told 
me that he has on several occasions seen the tracks of the 
pack, which seemed to him to be composed of animals of all 
sizes, firom that of a cat up to that of a full-grown jaguar. 
Another witness was an Indian on the Pomeroon river, who 
told me that the pack consists of two large and many small 
individuals, all grey-coloured except for a small mark over the 
eyes. The third witness was a Portuguese policeman, famous 
for many expeditions into the interior, who assured me that 
he had * met up ' with a * flock ' of warracaba tigers, and had 
been obliged to take refuge in a tree from them ; but his 
further account was evidently much exaggerated. 

I have put before the reader all the evidence I know as 
to the existence and nature of warracaba tigers. I cannot 
pretend to decide what these animals are, or even if they 



exist ; but I may BOggest that possibly all the stories may 
be founded on the fieu^t that fiELmilies of pumas {F. cancolor)^ 
consisting of parents and cubs, occasionally move about 

Various kinds of small deer occur, one species chiefly in 
and near the cane-fields on the coast ; others are confined to 
the forest ; and another species {Cervua saixmnaruTn) to the 
savannah. The distribution of this last species may be 
indicated in the fact that over great parts of the savannah it 
is hardly to be found at all, while in others it occurs so 
abundantly that one party of Indians sometimes kills as 
many as a dozen individuals in a day. 

The more imp(»rtant of the other animals may be men- 
tioned in a few words. Two kinds of racoons, called quashi 
by the negroes, kibihee by the Indians — the one living singly 
or in pairs {Nasiia 8olitari8\ the other in small droves 
(i\r. sodaUa) — are more often seen tame in Indian settle- 
ments than wild. Armadilloes of many kinds burrow in the 
forest and under the ant-hills on the savannah. Sloths are 
occasionally, and in some parts firequently, found clinging so 
tenaciously to the leafy branches that they often remain 
motionless while the trees on which they are are felled. 
Several kinds of opossum {Diddphya)^ the only pouched 
animals of Gruiana, live, the larger species on palm-trees, the 
smaller chiefly among bamboos. A grey squirrel {Sdurua 
ceatua/na) runs like its English cousin among the trees. Oc- 
casionally a most offensive odour attracts attention to where 
a porcupine {Sphingurua inaidioaua), despite the ground- 
keeping habits of most of its kindred, climbs among the 
branches. It is hardly possible to pass for many hours along 
any of the rivers without seeing small parties of otters swim* 
ming, while from, the bank the hideous shriek of others may 
occasionally be heard. Porpoises {Ddphinua) plunge in the 
waters of rivers which are not separated from the sea by large 
and rapid falls ; and in the same places a huge lumbering 
manatee (MaruUiLa auatraUa) occasionally rises near the boat 
of the traveller or plunges in alarm into deep water from 

BATS. 115- 

shallows where it had been browsing on the leaves of water 

After all, we have left to the last the set of mammals 
which is perhaps most prominent and most widely distributed. 
These are the bats. There is certainly a considerable number 
of species; and, as these have never been accurately de- 
termined, an interesting field for observation is thus offered 
to some future zoological specialist. It is here only possible 
to tell of bats as they appear to the ordinary spectator. Most 
prominent of all is a huge fruit-eating bat, with wings which 
occasionally measure three feet from tip to tip, and this, 
from its supposed blood-sucking propensities, is erroneously 
called the vampire. It is — ^bats generally, deservedly or not, 
having acquired a reputation for repulsiveness — an ugly ani- 
mal, but innocent enough. Its strength must be great ; for 
in certain houses in Georgetown about which these bats live, 
every night during the mango season these large and heavy 
fruits fall in considerable numbers, and with a loud noise, on 
to the slates of the roof, being dropped, as I found, by so-called 
vampires as they flew. The real blood-sucking bats, or vam- 
pires, are small, light^coloured animals, of probably several 
species, of the genus Phylloatoma ; and they occur not in 
towns, but in large numbers almost everywhere else. Their 
habit of sucking the blood of men has already been mentioned 
in an earlier chapter ; ' their attacks on other animals are 
so serious that it is, for example, impossible to keep poultry 
where these bats are, except by shutting up the birds by night 
in some carefully closed building. Another very noticeable bat 
is a small dark-coloured kind which lives during the day in 
large flocks on the trunks of trees overhanging the rivers. 
If a boat approaches, the whole flock rises and flits alonq^ 
under the shadow of the overhanging trees until another con- 
venient stump or trunk is reached, and there it once more 
settles. These animals are so abundant on most rivers that 
they form one of the most characteristic features of water- 
side life. 

* See p. 17. 
I 2 


Probably no country of equal extent is richer than Guiana 
in birds. It is a common idea that great brilliance of colour 
is the almost universal characteristic of these. But this 
notion has arisen merely from the fact that the bright-coloured 
birds, of which there certainly are a good many, have been 
diligently collected and sent out of the country as curiosities, 
while those of less brilliant hue — the number of which is in 
nature very far greater — ^are, as the naturalist knows, but 
seldom exported. 

Moreover, the traveller in G-uiana sees in nature very little 
even of that brilliancy of colour which undoubtedly exists. 
Nothing can be more resplendent than the male cock-of- 
the-rock (Rupicola crocea\ a bird about the size of a small 
bantam, which is everywhere clothed, except at the end of 
the tail, and on the larger wing feathers, in ruddy orange, so 
brilliant, while the bird is alive and in health, that it has a 
glow like that of fire. Then there is the bird {ThrenoRdua 
7nilitari8\ called in the colony * baboon-bird,' from the re- 
semblance of its deep note to that of the ' baboon ' or red 
howling monkey, which is of the size of a pigeon and is almost 
entirely of a very rich deep crimson. Among the chatterers, 
the fire-bird {Phoenicocircue camifex) has a rich deep brown 
back, with a tail, head-cap, and breast of most vivid crimson ; 
the wallababa (Ampelia porapadora) isof a curious fine piuple 
colour, very rare among birds, but like that of beautiful wine, 
with pure white wing-feathers ; two other chatterers are of 
bright forget-me-not blue, somewhat gaudily varied with a 
patch of purple on the breast (Ampelis coemlea and cayana). 
The curri-curri or scarlet ibis {Ibis rubra) is too well known 
to need description. Then there are parrots and parroquets 
of very many kinds, and of almost as many brilliant colours ; 
and there are macaws entirely dyed with red, orange, and 
green, blue, and soft yellow. Lastly, there are humming- 
birds of very many species, whose colours are proverbial. All 
these, and a few others which there is no need to mention, 
could not possibly be surpassed in richness of colour. Yet, 
when in a state of nature, they show but little. It is true 


that in the remote parts of the colony the cock-of-the-rock 
is occasionally seen to pass like a flash of orange light, and 
that on the mud-flats on the coast the scarlet curri-curri may 
he seen from far off, the more markedly in that it feeds 
among pore white egrets. But the colours of the others are 
not apparent, or very seldom indeed, to the traveller. The 
chatterers, probably as a family the gayest of all the birds, 
keep to the tops of the tallest trees ; even the parrots are so 
high up that their colours are not distinguishable from the 
ground ; and when macaws fly over, or shriek from the top 
of some dead tree, it would generally be difficult, but for the 
difference in their harsh notes, to discern even whether they 
are of the red or of the blue species. One of the few mis- 
leading passages I know in Waterton's writings is that in 
which he says that ^ it is a grand sight in ornithology to see 
thousands of aras (macaws) flying over your head low enough 
to let you have a full view of their flaming mantle.' It must 
be a very rare sight to see so many together; they are 
generally either in pairs, or at most five or six fly together, 
and even where they are most abundant I have never seen 
above a score together ; nor has any man, either European 
or Indian, ever admitted to me that he has seen larger flocks. 
Moreover, their colours, as I have already said, are at best but 
barely discernible as they fly. 

In this matter of the exhibition of colour the case of 
humming-birds is somewhat peculiar. No birds in the 
whole world are more gloriously coloured ; but the texture 
of the feathers is so peculiar that these colours appear only 
in certain lights. Even with a humming-bird in one's 
hand, it is impossible to see at one glance more than a 
small portion of the beauty of its colour, and generally, 
though in some positions the whole bird looks dull, yet if it 
be slightly moved some point on its body flashes out with 
colour more brilliant than fire. This matter is well illus- 
trated by Mr. Grould's beautiful book of humming birds. 
For example, to take a Gruiana species, the picture of the 
^ king humming-bird ' {Topaza pella) is exquisite, and is 


faithful in 80 &r that each detail of colouring is correctly 
given ; but the drawing serves as a signal example of the di£B- 
cultj of representing a humming-bird. Hardly mcnre than 
one of the points of colour is in reality ever visible in any 
one humming-bird at one and the same time, for each point 
only shows its peculiar and glittering colour when the light 
falls upon it &om a particular direction. A true represen- 
tation of one of these birds would show it in somewhat 
sober colours except just at the one point which, when the 
bird is in the position chosen for representation, meets the 
light at the requisite angle; and that point alone should 
be shown in full brilliance of colour. A flowering shrub 
is sometimes seen surrounded by a cloud of humming-birds, 
all of the same species, and each, of course, in a different 
position. If some one would draw such a scene as that, 
showing a different detail of colouring in each bird, accord- 
ing to its position, then some idea of the actual appearance 
of himiming-birds might be given to one who had never 
seen an example. And if so small a portion of the colouring, 
however intense such a portion may be, is visible in a 
bird held in the hand, it will easily be understood that in 
nature, these birds flying with such exceeding rapidity, only 
by a very rare chance is any colour flashed by a living 
humming-bird on to the human eye. 

It is natural to turn from the colour to the note of birds. 
The almost entire absence of sweet bird-notes at once strikes 
the traveller who comes from thrush and warbler-haunted 
temperate lands. There is hardly a bird in Gruiana with 
sweet notes ; perhaps the chief songsters are the tiny * louis 
d'or' {Ewphonia violacea and E, minuta)^ birds with dark 
steel-blue backs and yellow breasts, which chirp out a few 
feeble notes sweetly enough, and the shik bird. 

But if sweet notes are few, striking notes are abundant. 
Most characteristic of all is the pi-piyo (Lipangua erne- 
raceu8)y a bird, somewhat like a song-thrush, which, crying 
its own name all through the day, makes the sound echo and 
re-echo through the forest. The toucans also, in the early 


morning and in the evening, yelp, like excited puppies, from 
the high trees. The £Bimous 80-<called bell-bird {Chaama^ 
rhyruJiua caruneulaiiM) is often heard in the forest, and a 
second species ((7. variegcUvs) as often on some parts 
of the savannah. I never could detect muoh resemblance 
in the note of these birds to the sound of a bell. The cry 
of the first species is more like the ring produced by two 
pieces of iron struck against each other ; but the notes of 
the male and female birds differ considerably. The cry of the 
second species is like the sound made by the drill in blasting 
operations. Then, also in the forest, is heard an extra- 
ordinarily deep sound, like the lowing of an ox, and it is long 
before the traveller realises the feu^t that this is made by the 
* quow,' or * calf-bird* {Oymnocephalua ccUvus)^ a bird no big- 
ger than a pigeon. Each of many kinds of parrots shrieks a 
different, but always discordant cry ; and the cries of diffe- 
rent species of hawks are almost equally discordant and yet 
more striking. In another chapter I have already spoken of 
the strange, weird notes in which various kind of goatsuckers 
moan at night. How striking and peculiar the cries of all 
these and of countless other birds is, is seen in the fact that 
the Indian uses each cry as the name of the bird that makes 
it, and thus has a perfectly good and distinct name for each 
of the innumerable birds of Gruiana. 

After a time the traveller begins to recognise what are 
the commonest forms among the birds. Among birds of 
prey he sees vultures, only of three species, but often in 
immense numbers; hawks in very great variety and 
number, and occasionally, though more seldom, owls. It is 
perhaps worth noting that the only English bird with which 
the traveller meets in Gruiana is the barn-owl of our church 
towers. The perchers in Gruiana, as elsewhere, form the 
common feathered flock. The climbers are well represented 
by many woodpeckers, by toucans, and by parrots, macaws, 
and parroquets. Among the game birds the most important 
are the powis or curassow bird {Crax cUedor), about the size 
of a turkey, black everywhere but on its bright yellow beak 


and legs ; several species of partridge-like maams {Tina-' 
mu8)y and the doraquara (Odontophorus guicmenaia)^ and 
a quail {Ortyx criatatvs). There are various pigeons. 
Among the waders there are many species of heron, ibis, 
snipe, and rail. And lastly the swimmers are chiefly repre- 
sented by ducks, razor-bills, terns, the ducklar or diver 
{Plotus anhinga), and by a gull or two. 

Probably the best way to give an idea of the distribution 
and habits of these birds will be by grouping them according 
to their haunts. We will take these in the order in which 
they occur from the sea inland. Sea-birds are not numerous, 
probably because of the flatness of the coast and absence of 
rocks. Only once have I noticed a scene in which sea- 
birds played an important part. This was just off the mouth 
of the Pomeroon river. The land there very recently ex- 
tended much further seaward, but it has been much washed 
away, and there is now a wide stretch of shallow water, from 
which in many places the dead trunks and branches of 
forest trees yet rise. It is a strangely desolate scene of sea 
passing imperceptibly into forest. When I saw it, some 
pelicans rested on the tree-trunks, or flew languidly from 
one to the other ; flocks of gulls fished in the more open 
water ; some ibis and egrets stood up to their knees on the 
mud-banks, which reached nearly to the surface; a few 
sandpipers hovered uneasily about, unable to find convenient 
resting place either, on the water or in the forest ; and a long 
line of a score of rosy spoonbills came flying along the edge 
of the forest. 

In other places, between the forest and the sea, there is 
a more or less wide reach of rank grass and mud and sand. 
Such a place is nearly always gay with innumerable scarlet 
ibis and white-plumed egrets. 

Directly inland from these mud-flats are the inhabited 
places. Here the most common bird of all is the keskedie 
{La/n/i/aa 8ulphuratvs\ a yellowish shrike, which there 
takes the place of the sparrow in England. It is exces-. 
sively bold, and may often be seen high up in the tor 


chasing the vultures, while at other times it occupies itself 
in darting after its insect prey, regardless of the presence of 
man. Another bird which is here to be soon noticed is the 
redbreasted Leistea wntericaria — ^the * robin ' of the colonists. 
Handsome yellow and black starling-like plantain birds 
{Icterus xanthomus) are also abundant. And on the way- 
side bushes, or sitting on the backs of cattle, there are sure 
to be some *old witches' {Crotwphxigua ami and majfor), 
like small black magpies, but with curiously enlarged, keeled 
beaks ; these birds are remarkable as socialists, for they not 
only live in small flocks, but have one large nest common 
to many individuals. These are all roadside birds. High 
up in the sky a few black vultures or * carrion crows ' 
{Gartharista aura and urubitinga) are visible, and if the 
observer goes from roads and houses to some refase heap or 
foul mud-patch, he is sure to see some of these same birds 
solemnly fishing in the filth for their food. In the gardens 
there are now few birds to be seen — a humming-bird, gene- 
rally of a somewhat dull green species {Trochilua bicolor)^ 
perhaps hovers over a flowering shrub or creeper, and a 
few blue sakis flit about in the trees. On the water-weeds 
in the trenches, where these are not quite close to houses, 
walk some spurwings {Parra jaca7ia\ like rails, but with 
enormously long toes, which seem to support them on the 
floating leaves, and armed with sharp, homy spurs on their 
winga. Of course other birds, more properly belonging to 
less peopled places, occasionally visit the towns, villages, and 
plantations, but those which we have named are the most 
prominent and constant in the latter places. 

Leaving the coast and going up any one of the rivers, 
birds at once become more numerous. Here the most uni- 
versally distributed and abundant birds are kingfishers of 
five species, varying in size from that of a jackdaw {AUedo 
torquata) to that of a sparrow {A. superdliosa). As the 
traveller advances in his canoe, one of these birds starts at 
every few yards firom some tree, and, with a cry like a 
hideous laugh, flies farther along the bank. It is worth notice 


that not one of these kingfishers is nearly as brilliant in 
colour as their English cousin. Probably the next bird to 
attract attention is a ducklar {Plotua anhvaga). This is the 
Creole name ; but the bird is more usually known in England 
as a darter, or snake-bird — the former because of its extra- 
ordinarily direct method of diving after fish, the latter be- 
cause of the great length of its snake-like neck as compared 
with the length of its body. Generally less abundant than 
kingfishers, at least one ducklar is yet almost sure to be 
flushed in each reach of the river ; and in some places — as I 
noticed, for instance, on one occasion on the Takootoo river — 
hundreds of these birds may be seen at a time sitting on the 
trees. Before long the sharp cry of the * mocking-bird ' 
{Gaasicus peraicus) calls attention to some tree, from the 
branches of which dozens of the long purse-like nests of these 
birds hang swaying in the wind ; for these birds build in 
colonies, and, it is said, always on trees on which there are 
nests of certain venomous wasps, these insects being useful 
in that they deter monkeys from attacking the nests of the 
birds. On some rivers far in the interior, especially on the 
Takootoo, a much handsomer relation of this ^ mocking-bird,^ 
the moramoroota or troupial {Icterus jaTnacaii) is more 
abundant. This bird is somewhat smaller than the CasaicuSy 
and its chief colouring is a bright ruddy orange relieved by 
a few black feathers ; its nests are solitary, not in colonies, 
but are also purse-shaped. Indians attach a high value to 
the moramoroota (which, by the way, is the Garib name) and 
tame them fi-equently. Herons of various kinds are also 
seen ; especially one {Ardea cocoi) very like the English heron, 
and a smaller bird like a bittern {TigroaoTna bra8ilien8e)y 
called from its brown spotted colouring the ^ tiger-bird.' Occa- 
sionally a flock of warracabas or trumpet-birds (Psophia crepi- 
tans) comes flying by, and the birds, alighting, at once begin 
to run about as if very busy, uttering the oddly deep and 
sonorous note which has gained for these birds their popular 
name* When seen at close quarters nothing could well be 
more beautiful than these latter birds, sober as they are in 


colour; their softly shaded grey plumes, long, and hanging 
more gracefully than those of an old male heron, contrast 
most exquisitely with the metallic^looking, deep purple- 
black feathers of the throat and neck. And of much the 
same habit as the trumpet-birds, but more rare, is the sun,- 
bird {Eurypyga hdias\ with small but graceful body, 9up- 
ported by splendidly large wings and tail, the feathers of 
which are minutely banded with brown and black and 
white and purple, so that, sober as the colours are in them- 
selves, the whole effect is resplendent. In the morning and 
eyeniiig parrots and macaws fly high overhead, in parties 
of two or three. Lastly, on the top of some high tree, a 
hawk, one of many species, is often to be seen watching 
for prey. As a rule the traveller on any of the main rivers 
of Guiana will see these and but few other birds along the 

But the very extensive sand-banks which lie in mid- 
stream in some of the broader river-reaches have a peculiar 
avi-fauna of their own. Some, of these banks are so low 
that they are entirely covered when the rivers are in flood ; 
but on others there are higher parts, generally with a few 
scattered sand-loving shrubs, which are never covered, and 
which thus give a haven to all the birds of the banks during 
the rains. Chief among these birds of the sand-bank are 
the scissor-bills {Rkynchopa nigra) ^ gull-like black and 
white birds with very curiously twisted beaks, which through 
the day fly over the sand, screaming loudly. Among these 
fly also several species of sea-swallows, or terns {Sterna). 
And at the water's edge numbers of small sandpipers 
{TriTiga sp. var.) race excitedly along the wet sand. One 
or two species of nightjar (Caprimulgua) especially affect 
these banks. All these birds become unusually active at 
the beginning of the dry season, for then much of the banks 
is exposed, and the birds lay their eggs on the bare dry 
sand. In some of these places it is hardly possible to walk 
many yards without coming across the nest, or rather the 
eggs, of one or other of these birds. 


But if the traveller turns from the main river into any 
of the small, little-visited creeks, he will see other birds ; 
indeed, it is often in such places that the prettiest scenes of 
bird life are to be found. I remember, especially, once, 
turning from the Gabalebo, a tributary of the Corentyn, into 
a small side stream, known from the hard sandstone rock 
which abounds there and which is carried away by the 
Indians to be used for sharpening knives, cutlasses, and 
axes, as ' Grindstone creek.' Just above the mouth of the 
creek the water tumbled over some rugged rocks into a pool 
of black water. Bound this the ground rose and wap 
covered partly by ordinary forest trees, partly by groves of 
an especially beautiful but very prickly palm {Aatrocaryum 
plicatuTTi^ Drude.) Three white egrets of a species peculiar, 
as regards Guiana, to the Corentyn, and a kingfisher or two 
which were fishing in the pool, lightened the picture. 

And it is in such places that humming-birds are chiefly 
seen. On the open river or on the savannah they are some- 
times to be seen buzzing round a flowering tree, and in the 
depths of the forest they occasionally fly past the wanderer 
with startling rapidity. But it is in the openings formed by 
the creeks that they are chiefly at home, for there numbers 
of them hang their nests to the swaying ends of creepers, or 
fasten them to leaves, or in between some forking twigs. Most 
abundant of all the species in such places is the gorgeous 
king humming-bird {Topaza pella)^ with ruby and green 
flamelets instead of feathers, and with enormously long 
forked tail. The boldness of these birds is very remarkable ; 
I have seen one hover angrily round and round the muzzle 
of a gun aimed at it. The nest* of this species is, I think, 
always suspended to the stem of a creeper overhanging the 
water. The material, like a thick felt formed of a yellow, 
tinder-like substance, long puzzled me, till I recognised it as 
the fluflF which clothes the young flower-spathes of an abun- 
dant species of palm {MaximUiana regia). The eggs, two 
in number, are white, but pink-tinted by the contents. 
The young birds very soon grow ridiculously large for the nest, 


on which they rather rest than lie inside. After a time the 
deserted nest often affords hold to the spores of moss, which, 
growing rapidly in the close damp air, soon transform the 
whole into a ball of green attached to the creeper. 

In the forest itself bird life seems even much rarer than 
elsewhere. The cries of bell-birds, parrots, toucans,'trogons, 
chatterers, pigeons, and hundreds more, tell the wanderer 
that the birds are there ; but these live in the forest roof, 
unseen except by the man who, having found some tree 
with ripe fruit, will wait patiently till the birds come to this 
to feed. Occasionally a curiously loud yet small whirr 
startles the traveller, first by its apparent closeness to his 
ears, then by its remoteness, and by the way in which it 
seems to be on all sides at once and yet consecutively, till 
he looks helplessly round but fails to see a bird — for it is a 
himiming-bird, which at such times seems a very sprite in 
the rapidity of its movements and in the power which it 
thus has of making its presence invisible to the eye. Before 
long the tapping of some woodpecker is sure to attract the 
eye to a more evident bird. And then the cry of some game- 
bird, powis, maam, or maroodi, sounds, and perhaps — though 
this does not often happen — the bird itself afterwards comes 
into sight. That these latter birds are really abundant is 
evident from the number which an Indian, if a good himter, 
will kill^in such places in an hour or two. In short, birds, 
though abundant enough in the thick forest, are but seldom 
seen there. 

But occasionally there is a clear space, either natural 
and due to the fall of the trees, or made and then deserted 
by Indians. It is in such- places that vultures, not only of 
the two species common on the coast, but also of a third and 
really most beautiful' kind, love to congregate. The two 
former kinds {CatJiariata aura and C. urubitmgd) are in 
general colouring black, the bald head being in one case of an 
unwholesome red colour, and in the other black ; both these 
birds are of very ignoble appearance. But the king vul- 
ture (^SarcoramphuB papa) is a larger and more powerfully 


built bird; its body feathers are of beautifully blended 
shades of white, grey, and black ; round its neck is a splen- 
did ruff of softest grey feathers, and the naked head, instead 
of being repulsive as in the other species, is beautiful and 
gay with blended yellow and red colours. The ugly 
birds are much more numerous than the beautiful. With 
the former I once had a curious interview. Very early one 
morning I had taken my gun and wandered into the forest, 
and having about dawn reached a clearing evidently made 
by fire, which seemed likely to be visited by birds, I sat 
down on a fallen tree near the centre to wait. For some 
fifty yards on every side of me there was a dreary waste of 
fallen and half-burned trees, some blackened, others whitened 
by exposure to the weather ; the soil was covered with ash, and 
only a rank herb grew here and there. At the outskirts of 
the clearing some trees, burned and dead, yet stood erect ; a 
little further off the trees were only scorched, and beyond 
that again was the dense, living forest. Not a sound was 
yet heard. As the sun rose the little weird field of white in 
which I sat literally glowed with light and heat. Presently, 
almost at my feet, something moved, and then a black vul- 
ture rose slowly from the ground, leaving two eggs exposed, 
and flew tx> one of the dead standing trees. While I watched 
this bird there was a sligKt sound behind me, and, turning, I 
saw another vulture standing on another burned tree on the 
other side of me. Once more, and again and again, this 
happened. Surprised at the presence of these living things 
where all had seemed to me strangely lifeless, I began to 
count the birds ; and I had to count quicker and quicker, for 
every moment a new vulture woke and attracted my attention 
by stretching its wings to dry them in the morning sun, in 
which position it remained awhile motionless. The only sound 
was the slight rustle caused by this wing-stretching. At last 
I found myself the centre of a circle of thirty-seven vul- 
tures, each with outstretched wings, standing motionless on 
a gaunt, fire-blackened, sun-whitened tree, and all gazing 
curiously at me. At last, to break the spell, I fired into the 


air, and the birds rose and began their day's task of soaring 
high up in the air. I found that this was a fiavourite roost* 
ing-place. Every evening the birds collected near the place, 
and for some time, instead of flying high and steadily as 
they do through the day, rushed frantically about overhead, 
frequently turning, and at each turn making an extraor- 
dinary noise by clapping their wings, like the sound of a 
heavy sheet flapping in the wind. A negro who stood by 
me as I watched this performance once remarked that they 
came down like a whirlwind. Just before dark they settled 
down in the clearing which I have described. 

Not only at early morning, to dry the dew, but also after 
a shower, vultures stand with outstretched wings, sometimes 
motionless, sometimes alternately closing each wing. The 
negroes say that when these * crows ' collect on a tree during 
rain, it is to consult about building a house for shelter ; but 
when the rain leaves off, then they stretch out one wing and 
then the other, and they cry in chorus, as one wing goes out, 
* We want no house,' and as the other goes in turn, * We 
want no hall,' — and so on until all their feathers are dry. 

Through the day the vultures are generally distributed 
singly or in pairs high up in the air; but wherever dead 
meat is there many vultures collect. First come the small 
black kinds, but before long the king vultures swoop down, 
and driving oflF the first comers, who retire to wait on the 
surrounding trees, gorge themselves and then sit languidly, 
too heavy to fly, while the others take their turn. 

One other bird of the forest region demands notice. This is 
the brilliant-coloured * cock-of-the-rock ' {Rupicola croced), 
which has already been mentioned. It never occurs in the 
lowland forests, but is abundant in all places where trees and 
rocks are mingled. Thus its home is both in the moun- 
tainous parts of the forest region, as on the Potaro and 
Mazeruni rivers — and in the wooded mountains, such as the 
Pacaraimas and Canakoos, of the savannah region. It is very 
remarkable, not only for its brilliant colour and for its extra- 
ordinary crest, but also for its habit of dancing. It was 


never my fortune to find the dancing-plax^e of these birds ; 
but the brothers Schomburgk were more fortunate, and one 
of the latter — Richard — thus describes the scene : * A number 
of these splendid birds were taking part in their dance on a 
smooth slab of rock, • • . • some twenty birds, male and 
female, being perched on the bushes round the place, and 
uttering very peculiar cries, a cock-bird danced in proud self- 
consciousness on the ground — ^its tail, which it jerked up 
and down, and its wings extended ; the dancer scratched 
the ground and sprang vertically up into the air till, 
wearied with its steps, it took its place, with a peculiar 
cry, among the bystanders on the bushes ; then a new 
performer appeared.* ^ By the way, Schomburgk is mis- 
taken in supposing that the cock-of-the-rock always avoids 
the neighbourhood of other birds ; for on the Potaro and 
Mazeruni it lives among many others. High up on the 
savannah mountains, where Schomburgk saw it, it is alone 
probably only because the elevation and other conditions are 
unsuitable for other birds. The same writer is also mistaken 
in his belief that these birds are not successfully reared' and 
tamed by Indians ; I have seen them of all ages in Indian 
houses, and was once fortunate enough to see nearly two 
score of fully developed male birds in the hands of one party 
of travelling Indians. 

On the savannah, except in the coppices and in the 
narrow band of forest which generally edges the rivers, 
bird life is somewhat different. On the open grass lands a 
number of small insectivorous birds flit, much after the 
manner of larks, from tuft to tuft. Tiny ground-pigeons are 
numerous ; and occasionally a covey of quail {Ortyx cria- 
tatvSy Gray) is flushed. A beautiful lapwing {Vcundlvs 
guia/nenaid)^ not unlike the English bird, but mainly gray 
instead of green, and with curious homy spurs on its elbows, 
is not rare. Among the low solitary trees the * savannah 
starling ' (StumeUa Ivdovicma) is the commonest bird ; and 
round these trees, when in flower, one or two species of hum- 

1 Richard Sohomburgk. Bei$en in Brititoh €h/ia/na, vol. i. p. 442. 


ming-birds may often be seen. Hawks and owls are unusually 
numerous, both in number of species and of individuals. 
When a fire passes over any part of the savannah, the 
creeping flame is always preceded by many birds of prey in 
pursuit of the lizards, snakes, and other small animals which 
are then forced to fly from their shelters. On the reedy 
ponds which occur in places on the savannah, ducks, 
especially the large musk-duck {Anas moachatua) and the 
whistling viccissi-duck (A, OAitv/mnalia) are often numerous ; 
and on the high trees near these ponds, and on the banks of 
the rivers, the great stork-like ^ negrocop,' so called because of 
its bald black head (Mycteria ataericaTia^ builds its nest. 

Probably the reader will find some difficulty in realising 
the certain &ct that even the reptiles are, under ordinary 
circumstances, not dangerous, and are rarely ever annoying 
to man. For instance, it is a matter of common and sted- 
fast belief that snakes must be troublesome in the tropics ; 
but as a matter of fact, though snakes are without doubt 
numerous in Gruiana, they are very seldom seen, and even 
when seen are exceedingly seldom harmful to human beings, 
except perhaps to Indians, whose nakedness and habits of 
life expose them to such harm. Probably there is hardly one 
of the ordinary town-dwelling colonists of Ouiana who could 
not count the number of snakes he has seen on the fingers 
of one hand. Those who live on the plantations and in 
country districts of course see more ; but even these would 
in most cases probably be able to count the number seen in 
one year on two hands. And as regards the interior, I need 
only say that I once carefully noted the number of snakes 
seen during two months of travel in forests and on savannahs ; 
and it was but eleven. It is not that snakes are few — though 
they are probably not so abundant in the western, as in 
the drier eastern tropics — but that they are shy and retire 
silently before the approach of man. And of reptiles other 
than snakes none need be regarded with much fear. 

The reptiles which I shall have to mention are alligators, 
lizards, snakes, and turtles. 



In the coast region alligators are very numerous wher- 
ever there is mud and water. They are often to be 
seen in the trenches of estates ; and in one case, not long 
ago, one was found even in the streets of Georgetown. Be- 
cause the larger they grow the more noticeable they are, 
only those of small size generally escape detection and sur- 
vive in the inhabited districts ; but in remote mud swamps 
they grow much larger. The largest that came under my 
notice measured twenty feet from snout to tail. They are 
rarely harmful to man, though one occasionally hears stories 
of how an arm or a leg has been snapped off by one of these 

In the interior alligators as well as caymans are nume- 
rous on some of the rivers. Elsewhere I have described 
the nest of one of the latter kind, as well as their curious 
habit of floating on the surface of the water and occa- 
sionally raising their tails to bring them down smartly 
on to the water. It has been said that the object of this 
latter trick is to attract fish, but this probably wants further 
confirmation. Generally when lying, basking, on the surface 
of the water the cayman is a sluggish animal, and it is 
not dangerous to bathe, in shallow water, close by them, 
if the bather only keeps his eye upon them and is prepared 
to run as soon as the cayman seems about to move. It 
is a well-known fact as regards lizards that, not only when 
the tail is by some accident torn off does a new tail bud and 
grow, but also that even if this appendage is only injured 
without being lost, a new secondary tail occasionally grows 
from the injured spot and, with the original tail, forms a 
fork. Knowing this, I was yet surprised one day by the sight 
of an alligator of considerable size with a double tail. This 
animal was on a sandbank in the Corentyn river, but it 
made its escape into the water when we attempted to ap- 
proach it. 

Of all lizards far the most prominent in Guiana is the 
iguana (Iguana tuberculata). This is a large tree-dwelling, 
herbivorous lizard, often four or four and a-half feet in 


length, of a beautiful brilliant green when young, but after- 
wards of a dull ugly grey-green, made hideous, especially 
in the case of the male, by a curiously jagged raised ridge 
along its back, and by an enormous dewlap. They live about 
the banks of rivers. The flesh of these lizards being like, but 
more delicate than chicken, is much appreciated, not only by 
Indians, but also by Europeans, and the animals are therefore 
much sought after. In the more peopled districts iguanas are 
now scarce, but along the rivers of the interior, and especially 
on the Corentyn, long stretohes of which are entirely unin- 
habited even by Indians, they are abundant. 

But it was on the Cabalebo, which is entirely unin- 
habited, that I saw most of these animals. One or more 
was lying on the upper branches of many of the creeper- 
tangled bushes and low trees overhanging the water. 
Often the first notice of the presence of these was 
the loud splash which they made when, as we came up, 
they threw themselves headlong ifrom the top of the trees 
into the water. Sometimes, however, we got near enough to 
shoot them, when, if not killed outright, they sank into 
the water and were never seen again. Others were basking 
among the dead leaves on the river-bank ; and these, as we 
came up, raised their tails and scampered off with a clatter 
loud enough for an animal of four or five times the size. 
We began to find their eggs, too, buried in holes in the 
sand-bank ; and the men often dug out hundreds of eggs in 
the course of a few hours. There are generally from thirty 
to forty eggs, all laid by one lizard, in each nest ; * but from 
the larger number in some of the holes, I imagine that 
occasionally more than one lays in the same place. The 
holes are often very deep, so that the Indians have to dig 
four or five feet, or even more, before reaching the eggs. 

The iguanas wait to lay till the dry season, when the sand- 

* Schombnigk (JReUen in Britisch Ouiana, vol. i. p. 303) states the 
number of eggs as seldom more than fourteen ; but I have always found 
the larger number wbich I have* stated, and have on several occasions taken 
about forty eggs from out of the female lizard when just about to lay. 

K 2 


banks are uncovered. Then they either go to the banks at 
the side of the river or swim — ^they are capital swimmers — 
to those in mid-stream. They dig a tunnel, only just wide 
enough for their bodies, down into the sand. After laying 
their eggs, which are oval, about the size of a pigeon's egg, 
and are enclosed in a white elastic skin instead of shell, 
they must wri^le backward out of the holes — ^no easy task. 
The eggs are left to hatch untended.' When the germ 
begins to develop the egg becomes irregular in shape. How 
long a time passes before th^ young emerge from the egg 
I have never been able to find out. That .their instinct 
should lead them to find their way up through the great 
mass of overlying sand is wonderful. 

The Indians find the nests by following the tracks made 
by the parent on the sand, and by noting the very slight dis- 
turbance of the sand which exists at the mouth of the hole. 
They then push a pointed stick into the sand in various 
directions, and where the sand is soft and yielding they 
know that the tunnel of the iguana must have been. With 
their hands they dig down, but cautiously, for they say a 
particular kind of poisonous snake which shares their liking 
for the eggs is occasionally met with in the holes, and 
that Indians have often been bitten in this way and 
have died in consequence. Moreover, the iguana itself 
is often found in the hole, having just deposited its eggs, 
and not yet having had time to come up, and it is apt to 
bite sharply. When the lizard is thus caught * in the act ' 
the chase is exciting: as the .Indian digs down, the iguana 
digs deeper and deeper to get away from him. In this race 
the man of course finally wins. The lizard is caught by the 
tail, but still holds fast and refuses to be drawn out. The 
Indian pulls, and oft^n the tail snaps. This gives the lizard 
a fresh start, of which it takes advantage by digging on 
vigorously ; but it is finally caught and drawn out. 

The Indians assert that jaguars are in the habit of 
digging out the eggs for themselves. Certainly jaguar 
tracks very commonly occur intermingled on the sand with 

SNAKES. 1 33 

those of the iguana. But it is more probable that the 
jaguars, knowing that these lizards are frequenting the sand- 
bajiks, prowl about during the breeding to catch the old 
lizards than that they dig for the eggs. 

Other enemies that the iguana has to fear, especially at 
breeding, time, are the perai, or houma as they are called 
on the Berbice and Corentyn, {Sercdsalmo niger). These 
most sharp-^toolhed and voracious fish so frequently bite off 
the end of the tail of the^ iguana as it swims from sand -bank 
to sand-bank, that I could hardly find one with a perfect tail 
among the large number which we got. 

Other lizards of smaller kinds are very abundant, and are 
universally distributed throughout all the regions. 

Of the real abunilance, hut retiring habits of snakes, I 
have already spoken. The most dreaded of the common 
kinds are the two species of boa, called respectively the 
land-camoodi • (A conatri^cta)^ and the water-camoodi or cul- 
nacanaro {Eunectea murina\ the labarria {Trigonocephalas 
atrox\ and the rattlesnake {GrotoLus horridibs). The last- 
mentioned kind is seen, if at all, on the dry savannahs ; the 
others occur equally commonly in suitable localities in all 

The land-camoodi is seldom seen and does but little 
harm to man. The only one I ever saw in a state of nature 
glided away at my approach. The water-camoodi is more 
often noticed. The largest I have ever seen alive was the 
one killed, as I have meiitioned in an earlier chapter, by my 
friend Edwards-Moss ; it was twenty feet long and three feet 
in circumference at the thickest. But they occasionally 
grow much Jarger— one, the skin of which I measured and 
found to be thirty feet, was found in a curious place. A 
friend of mine,*living in a somewhat remote place surrounded 
by forest, was somewhat particular about having his morning 
coffee brought to him just at dawn. His cook, when she 
went in the dark into the shed which served as a kitchen, 
was in the habit of striking the match to light the fire on 
a particular comer post; but one morning she was sur- 


prised to find that one match after another broke instead of 
catching fire. At last she struck a light in a new place, 
and having done so, she found to her great horror that a 
thirty feet long camoodi was coiled round the comer post, 
and on this she had been rubbing her matches. Young ca- 
moodies of small size are not unfrequently found in houses 
near the forest, and when in that stage they are much more 
beautifully coloured than when adult. They firequent the 
neighbourhood of water and often swim, for which reason 
they are much dreaded by Indian bathers. The Chinese, I 
believe alone of the various inhabitants of the colony, eat 
and relish the flesh of these snakes. It was probably a 
water-camoodi that first taught me that snakes snore. Once, 
as I was wandering according to my habit from my ham- 
mock in the middle of the night to smoke a pipe in the 
surrounding forest, my companion, who had just retired to 
his own hammock, called to me to beware of a particular 
tree,, for he had heard a snake snore there. Curiosity, of 
course, drove me to the tree, where the sound of snoring was 
plainly audible, and where, after some time, I succeeded 
in detecting a moderate-sized snake curled round a branch. 
Alone and in the dark I did not care to attack it, and in the 
morning, when I wanted to find the animal once more, it had 

The labarria is a much more terrible snake. It is small, 
being from three to five feet in length, but most venomous, 
and is of a dull colour, so like a dead stick that it is often 
not noticed until it strikes. Once when passing along a 
forest path, the hindmost of a single file of nine men, I 
drew back my foot just as I was about to put it down on a 
labarria coiled in the middle of the path, its head raised 
to strike. Eight men, seven of them barefooted Indians, 
had passed safely and without notice over this animal. It 
is a curious fact that, this snake having been beaten to 
death with large sticks and removed to some distance from 
the spot where we discovered it, on repassing the place some 
hours after, we found another labarria in the same place. This 


and other cases which came under my notice tend to confirm 
the statement of the Indians that where one snake is there 
is sm'e to be another. Even the labarria, however, probably 
never attacks human beings unless it is trodden on or other- 
wise disturbed. The bite of this snake may often result in 
the death of the sufferer, and, perhaps as often, in the loss of 
the particular limb or part of the body on which the wound 
is inflicted. A curious instance of the latter result came 
under my notice in the case of an Arawak Indian who had 
but one foot, the other, with the leg as &r as the knee, 
having gradually withered and dropped off in consequence of 
the bite of a labarria ; yet, with the aid of a stick, the man 
still ran, worked, and even hunted, as actively as any of the 
other Indians. 

The rattle-snake is too well known to need description. 
It is very rarely seen by Europeans. Only once did I nearly 
come into unpleasant contact with it, and that was when 
one had taken up its quarters in a basket in which our store 
of bread was kept ; but it made its escape without doing 
any harm. 

Of other venomous species of snakes there are doubtless 
plenty, but these are seldom seen. Negroes, and sometimes 
even Indians, will say that any snake they see is poisonous, 
but the accusation is in many cases quite unfounded. 

On the other hand, there are some very beautiful snakes, 
such as the long whipsnake of brightest green, called in the 
colony the parrot-snake, and the very lovely coral snake with 
its bands of brilliant pink. 

From what has been said in earlier chapters it will be. 
•evident that turtles are abundant in most of the rivers, but 
there are few in the sea or anywhere on the coast region. 
The two commonest species are the cashapan of the Indian 
{Emys amaaonioa^ Martins) — ^which sometimes attains a 
length of four and a half feet, and a smaller species, probably 
identical* with the Emya tracaja of Martins. Both these 
species are so numerous that I have sometimes seen large 
canoes heavily loaded with their eggs, in about equal pro- 


portions. Another species is the very carious mata-mata 
of the Indians (Chdys Truvta-mata^ which has an extra- 
ordinarily ragged, instead of a smooth shell, as in most species, 
and is endowed with a pecaliarly disgusting smell. The 
flesh of all these species is largely eaten by the Indians, who 
have learned the fact that the smell of the mata*mata may 
be entirely removed by careful washing. There are other 
species which have not yet been identified. 

It is a carious fact that jaguars are very fond of the flesh 
of turtles, and still more curious that they manage to ex- 
tract the animal from it^ shell. I am not aware that any 
European has actually seen the jaguar, performing this opera- 
tion; but many, I among others, have seen the freshly 
emptied shells scratched all over by the claws of jaguars, and 
lying on the sand among recent jaguar tracks. 

In the forest a species of tortoise (Teatudo taitUata) 
wanders about. That it is frequent is shown by the fact 
that an Indian hardly ever returns fit>m hunting without 
bringing home one or two, for its flesh is most excellent 
food. It lays two large round eggs — ^which, unlike those of 
the other tortoises, have hard, porcelain-like shells— on 
the forest floor. The animal when irritated has a sur- 
prising habit of grunting — a power which some indivi- 
dual tortoises possess, at least use, more vigorously than 

Of the frogs and toads in Guiana it is impossible to 
speak in detail. They are enormously abundant, and their 
varied and strange croaks combine in a chorus, which hardly 
ever ceases, gains redoubled force at night, and forms the 
characteristic sound both on the coast, in the forest, and on 
the savannah. So deeply does it impress the traveller that, 
when it has once been heard, he never, walking by an English 
ditch in spring, hears the feeble croak of one of our own frx>g3 
without seeing gigantic tropical scenes rise instantaneously 
before him. The amphibian which most annoys the colonist 
is a toad (Bufo agua\ which swarms everywhere in muddy 
I places, and at night crawls from the trenches in Georgetown 

FISHES. 137 

out on to the streets in such numbers that it is often im- 
possible to avoid treading on them. 

Fish swarm in enormous numbers and immense variety 
both in the sea and in the rivers. Certain mud-loving 
kinds which abound in canals and trenches are caught in 
large numbers by the negroes and others in a similar posi- 
tioUy and indeed form the chief animal food of these people ; 
but fishing for the better sorts of fish, either in the sea or 
in the rivers, is so little practised, that there is hardly any 
regular supply in the markets. 

In the interior the number and the beauty of the species 
is very great, and many of these have been well described by 
Schomburgk in his ^ Fishes of British Gruiana.' But without 
special search the traveller will probably meet only with a few 
prominent forms — those which are especially caught for food 
— such as the pacu {Pacu Tnyletea)^ which haunts the un- 
quiet waters of the rapids, and feeds on the water-plants 
growing on the rocks in such localities ; the haimara {Ery^ 
thrinua macrodcm, Agas.\ which is found principally in the 
mouths of creeks ; the gigantic lowlow {SUurus, sp. ?) ; 
and, in the more remote rivers, the arapaima (Sudia gig(i8\ 
both of which attain a length of from eight to ten feet. 
But there are three fishes which every traveller is sure to 
notice, not because they are good for food — though by the 
way all these kinds are occasionally eaten — but as dangerous 
enemies. These are the perai {SeraacUTfio niger\ the 
electric eel {Oymnotua dectricus)^ and the sting-ray (Trigon 

The perai swarms in nearly all rivers, though not within 
twenty miles from the sea, and is probably as voracious an 
animal as exists. Where ducks are kept by the few people 
living on the banks of perai-haunted waters, the poor birds 
almost invariably soon have more or less of the webs of their 
feet bitten ofif by these fish. It has already been said that 
the tails of iguanas are almost invariably docked in the same 
way, and it may be added that even alligators do not always 
escape with whole tails. A perai itself, if wounded by 


any chance, is at once attacked and devoured by its fellows. 
If a monkey or bird, when shot, fedls in the water, perai 
rush together from all quarters and carry off the prey before 
the sportsman can reach it ; and more than once, when fishing 
in clear water, the bait having been taken by some other 
fish, I have seen the captive as it was pulled through the 
water towards the boat, pursued and snatched by rushing 
perai. Again, the Indians having a habit of setting night 
lines for haimara and other big fish, it not unfrequently 
happens that when these are drawn up in the morning, only 
the head and shoulders of a fish are found on the line, the 
rest of the body having been carried off by perai. On more 
than one occasion I have known instances in which, men 
being drowned in the rivers, their skeletons have been 
found not many days after, almost stripped of flesh by perai. 
It is, therefore, a source of danger to bathe in smooth 
reaches, in which places perai are principally found. One of 
my boatmen, a mulatto, once, when wading by the side of 
the canoe, suddenly began to scream out certain strong ex- 
pressions, and being reproved, successfully justified himself 
by showing his foot, from one of the toes of which a perai 
had suddenly stripped all the flesh ; and on another occa- 
sion, when I sprang from the canoe to bathe, a sharp pain 
almost at the instant I reached the water told me that 
I had been bitten by one of these fish. Yet these terrible 
fish are small enough, being rarely more than two pounds 
in weight, but their teeth are so sharp that a jaw is carried 
by Indians and used to sever the poisoned point from the 
darts to be blown from their blow-pipes. 

The electric eel is another fish to be avoided. Its power 
of inflicting an electric shock is well known, and this shock 
is really very severe. My first experience of this was in 
this way : Some Indians, having built a dam across the 
mouth of a small creek, were, after their manner, poisoning 
the water to get fish, and I was standing on the dam to 
prevent any of the larger fish from struggling over and thus 
escaping, when I saw a black form in violent agitation in 



the water close by my feet ; having in my eagerness seized 
this, I found to my great pain that it was an electric eel. 
These fish are specially abundant in certain places; and 
one of these being in the Mazeruni river by the Penal 
Settlement, the convicts there, though, because it is the 
only time in the day during which they are allowed to 
talk, they generally look forward to the bathing hours, yet 
occasionally receiving an unexpected shock, are firightened 
and try to avoid the bath for some time after. The eels, if 
they are long kept in confinement lose their electric powers ; 
one very large one which had been in possession of a gentle- 
man on the west coast of Demerara for some fifteen years, 
was, I found, entirely harmless. 

The third. fisL to be dreaded is the sting-ray. This 
large flat fish, with a long whip-like tail, armed with a 
much-barbed spine, three inches long, which it can erect at 
pleasure, lies on the sand in shallow waters, where because 
of its colour it generally escapes notice till, when trodden 
on or otherwise disturbed, it strikes its spine into the 
adversary, and thus inflicts » terrible wound, which, for 
some not very obvious reason, occasionally causes even death. 
The spine seems to possess some poisonous and unwhole- 
some quality. An Indian in my service being struck in his 
foot by one of these fish, the wound remained open and in a 
most horrible condition for some months, and having daily 
to dress this wound, I gradually acquired so unreasonable a 
dread of the power of this ray, that when shortly afterwards 
I was wading in water too shallow to float the canoe, which 
lay about a quarter of a mile from me in one direction as the 
land did in the other, and the Indians shouted a warning 
that sting-rays abounded in the place, an utter inability to 
move in either direction kept me motionless for some time. 
The spine is used by the Indians in place of a lancet ; and 
long after it has been removed for this purpose firom the 
animal, it seems, when drawn across human flesh, to exhibit 
a curious irritating power not to be accounted for even by 
its minute barbs. 


It will afford a good idea of the proportion which imagi- 
nary danger from animals in Guiana bears to the real evils 
inflicted by these if we try to realise the possible thoughts 
of a nervous man when bathing in one of the rivers of that 
country. The nervous bather remembers that from the 
moment when he throws off his clothes, every part of his 
body not covered by water is exposed to the attack of mos- 
quitoes, sandflies, and many other sharply stinging insects ; 
but, on the other hand, that every part of his body 
covered by water may at any moment be bitten by perai, 
may receive a violent shock from an electric eel, or may be 
horribly lacerated by the poisoned spine of a sting-ray, or a 
limb may be snapped off by a passing cayman or alligator, 
or his whole body may be crushed, and thus prepared for 
swallowing by a huge water serpent ; or, even if none of 
these pains come upon him, he may remember that the egg 
of a certain worm, of which I shall presently have to speak, 
may be deposited unnoticed on his flesh, there to develop and 
become exceedingly painful. Now all these dangers are real 
enough, and any one of them may make itself felt at any 
moment. But on the other hand, of all the men who trust 
themselves in these waters day after day, and many times a 
day, for years together, not ten per cent, have ever felt even 
any of the smaller evils which have been described, except 
perhaps the bites of mosquitoes or sandflies; and not 
one in a thousand has suffered any serious or permanent 
harm. While therefore the nervous man feels all the pain 
of anticipation of evils, neither he nor the less timid man as 
a rule feel the actual evil 

From this digression we will turn to the consideration of 
insect life. Here many readers will probably make a final 
and determined stand against my plea for the acquittal of 
animals of all kinds from the charge usually brought against 
them of unceasing annoyance or harmfulness to man. Yet 
this plea may justly be extended to cover even insects. I 
should be more irritating than the mosquito itself were I to 
assert that that insect, and sandflies, and other such creatures. 


never annoy, that cockroaches are not repulsive, or that 
spiders are not ugly; but I do say that these and other 
insects are not sufficiently numerous or vicious to make 
life burdensome. 

It may be as well to begin by taking the case of an ordi- 
nary householder, and see what the insect foes of such an 
one are. The test is somewhat formidable, for it must take 
count, though some of these are but rarely seen in well-kept 
houses, of mosquitoes, wood-ants {termites)^ real ants, cock- 
roaches, certain beetles called * hardbacks,' spiders, centi- 
pedes, and certain wasps called ^ jack-spaniards.' These are 
arranged according to the degree of annoyance which they 
cause, the worst oflfenders being placed first. 

Mosquitoes are by no means equally distributed in all 
places. In many parts of the interior they are rarely seen, 
but on the coast, especially in some places, they are more 
numerous. They are most abundant of all on the muddy 
banks of the Pomeroon river near the sea. There the few 
white settlers find it necessary to protect their hammocks with 
close-fitting curtains, not, as elsewhere, of muslin, but of stout 
calico; and the Indian, before venturing on the mud flats to 
catch crabs, covers his body with a complete armour of mud. 
Mosquitoes are also very abundant along the road from the 
Demerara to the Berbice river, and in a few other special 
places, chiefly where there is little drainage. Elsewhere 
they are few at most seasons of the year, and throughout 
the greater part of the day they appear not in swarms, 
but singly. It is chiefly during the rainy season, and es- 
pecially at night, that they cause any trouble. Opinions 
probably vary as to the amount of annoyance caused by 
these insects, for they attack some people much more 
vehemently than others. Of two adjacent bedrooms — the 
conditions of which were exactly similar, except that one 
was occupied by a man subject to, the other by one 
free from, such attacks— I have, morning after morning, 
seen the one black with swarms of mosquitoes that had col- 
lected during the night, the other with hardly one of these 


insects. But even those who are happy enough to be 
seldom stung by mosquitoes suffer no little annoyance from 
the buzzing of these insects, which is of all sounds probably 
the most irritating. On the whole it must be admitted that 
in an ordinary house, more or less, but frequently consider- 
able^ annoyance is caused by mosquitoes. 

A more harmful, because unsuspected, enemy of the 
householder, is the wood-ant. The houses axe entirely built 
of wood, and too often the beams and boards, apparently 
sound, are mere shells, within which these insects, though 
hardly ever visible, swarm. Other substances besides wood 
are occasionally devoured by these insects, and in a large 
linendraper's store I was once assured that the only things 
safe from their ravages are woollen goods. Various species 
of real ants occasionally take possession of a house for a time ; 
and that others are nearly always present, though seldom 
seen, is sufficiently shown by the fact that if a piece of 
sugar-cane or other attractive food is put on the floor it is 
very soon surrounded by numbers of ants ; but all these do 
but little harm to hiunan beings, and do much good, in that 
they devour large numbers of other insects, especially cock- 
roaches. Even in well-kept houses probably few days pass 
in which two or three of the last-named insects, equally 
detestable in appearance and odour, are not seen ; and in 
houses which are not well kept they swarm. If therefore 
these insects are annoying, the remedy, by greater cleanli- 
ness, is easily applied. Another kind of insect visits houses 
only occasionally, and then imder circumstances which are 
rather amusing than annoying. These axe the so-called * hard- 
backs ' — small dark-coloured beetles of several species, but 
most often Toraarua bitvhercvZatv^y which, perhaps two or 
three times a year — always during rainy seasons — enter houses 
in perfectly astounding numbers. Attracted by the lights on 
a dining-table they literally cover the cloth, and being swept 
away again and again, they are as often replaced by others 
coming as thickly as ever. On such a night I have known 
it become quite impossible to play billiards, the table being 


strewn with hardbacks much as sea-beaches often are with 
pebbles. These beetles develop from the grub within cer- 
tain plants, generally within the roots of such juicy plants 
as sugar-canes, plaintains and bananas, but sometimes, most 
curiously, in the unopened flower-buds of the Victoria regia 
and other water-lilies. When they enter houses they are often 
still encrusted with dry mud, collected while escaping from 
their vegetable homes. Their muscular power is enoiinous. 
It is a trick commonly enough done for the benefit of 
strangers to put an ordinary wineglass on the back of one 
hardback, when the insect crawls over the table at a fair 
pace, dragging the glass with it. After all, the annoyance 
caused by hardbacks is very slight ; their visits occur only 
at long intervals, and the morning after such a visit every 
one of the insects has disappeared. 

Spiders, large and small, are of course occasionally seen 
in houses, but they do no harm, and the objection to them 
is founded merely on the universal and firmly established 
belief in their disgusting appearance. There are, of course, 
spiders in Gruiana the bite of which is more or less painful, 
but such kinds rarely, if ever, enter houses. Centipedes, too, 
are rarely seen even in country houses and still more 
rarely in town houses ; of course, provided, in both cases, 
that the houses are ordinarily clean. Large wasps of a 
very harmless kind fly in and out of the rooms, and fre- 
quently build their clay nests, like pretty little clay vases, on 
the walls even of living rooms. 

In short, mosquitoes and wood-ants are the only serious 
plagues in houses, and even these, except at times and in 
places, only now and then annoy. 

Just outside the. houses, in the short grass about in- 
habited places, a small red insect, called bete roxige^ like the 
EngUsh harvesi>-bug, swarms, and, burying itself in the feet 
and ankles of passers-by, produces an irritation which is to 
some people almost unbearable, to others of slight con- 

But it is in the interior that insects chiefly abound. It 


will probably be best to discuss these as nearly as may be in 
the order in which each class is likely to attract attention. 
Accordingly, the first place must be giv.en to the butterflies. 

The splendid beauty and great variety of tropical butter- 
flies has been so often told that it is only necessary here to 
add that G-uiana is surpassed by no country in such riches. 
The generally received and erroneous views of the appear- 
ance of tropical natinre are perhaps more nearly true as 
regards butterflies than aught else. It is true that, just as 
most of the bright-coloured birds live in the forest roof and 
out of sight, so do many of the butterflies ; but of the latter, 
though not of the former, there are many species that keep 
close to the ground, and therefore more frequently come 
under the eye of the traveller. 

The most striking of all the butterflies are the huge 
MorphoSy the large wings of which are entirely blue, and so 
gorgeous, brilliant, and shining, that the insect as it comes 
flaunting lazily down through the dark alleys between the 
tree-trunks, seems even from a considerable distance like a 
flash of blue light. They generally fly high, at the tops of 
the trees ; but for a short time every morning, apparently 
when the sun is at a particular point in the horizon, they 
come down into the openings made in the forest by a £bl11 of 
trees, and there flaunt — I use the word purposely — lazily in 
and out between the sunshine and the shade. They are so 
large that, as they passed high over such openings,! have traced 
their movements, as I sat below, by the shadows they cast 
«on the ground. These forest openings, during that part of 
each day when the sunlight is in them, are haunted not 
only by these blue, but also by other kinds of high-flying 
butterflies. Other kinds — especially the curiously shaped 
and scented HeUconias^ with black wings, spotted, accord- 
ing to the species, with blue, scarlet, or white — fly round 
the bushes and half-way up the tree-trunks, careless of 
whether they are in sun or in shade. Others again, with 
wings marked with red and brown, after the manner of 
English fritillaries, but difiering in shape from these latter, 


fly also at a height about half-way up the tree-trunks, but 
always, as a rule, in shade. And actually on the ground, 
especially when this is carpeted with the sickly-scented 
fallen flowers of the kakaralli tree (Lecythia oUaria\ other 
butterflies shaped like fritillaries, and with wings veined 
like fritillaries, but quite transparent and devoid of colour, 
flit among other clear-winged butterflies. The thought is 
irresistible that these, in the scented deep shade and the 
solitude, with their colourless transparent wings, are but 
pale ghosts of butterflies. Passing once more into the sun- 
light, tiny hawkmoths flash straight backward and forward 
from bush to bush so rapidly that only colour, without form, 
is seen. On the wet sand at the edges of rivers and streams 
armies of yellow butterflies, very like the English sulphur 
yellow, rest, as thickly as dead leaves in the forest, and 
enjoy the moisture. And sometimes a constant and most 
abundant stream of butterflies, of various kinds, passes for 
hours together, always in one direction, across a river, coming 
whence and going whither or with what purpose no man 

At night the butterflies give place to moths ; and even in 
the daytime a considerable number of the latter may be 
seen in the forest shade. Yet, as will be easily understood, 
moths attract comparatively little attention. For the pur- 
pose of the present sketch it is more important to make 
mention of the caterpillars. Some of the latter are of the 
strangest forms, and I greatly regretted that time and the 
opportunity only to be afforded by settled residence in one 
place both so &iled me that I was unable to rear some of 
these caterpillars to determine their species. One form, 
evidently occurring in many species, is a marvellously perfect 
instance of mimicry. These caterpillars are covered with 
processes which differ from ordinary hairs in that they are 
much branched, and not only exactly resemble in form the 
leafy stems of certain mosses, but also exactly resemble these 
mosses in colour. Some are light green, of exactly the shade 
assumed by moss when growing in damp places, others are of 



the yellow and brown shades of moss long exposed to the 
sun. As the caterpillar rests on a tree-trunk or rock it 
so closely resembles a small rounded patch of moss, that 
I was at first often completely deceived. And these insects 
not only thus hide themselves from their enemies by pre- 
tending to be plants, but they also enjoy further protection 
in their power of stinging like a nettle with the hairs which 
have been described. Another caterpillar of about two 
inches in length is entirely covered with shaggy silky hair, 
more than an inch long, and of the bright yellow colour of 
the natural silk from the cocoon of the silkworm. This 
animal has a perfectly black head, and was not inaptly com- 
pared by the friend who brought it to me to a yellow Scotch 
terrier. It passed into the chrysalis stage after a time, but 
for some unknown reason the perfect insect never emerged. 

Beetles will probably be principally remarkable to the 
traveller for their apparent absence. They are really plenti- 
ful, as becomes apparent when the bushes are swept with a 
net, but they generally live concealed. Near palm-trees the 
large black palm weevil {Rhyncophorus, var. sp.) may often be 
observed. This is the perfect insect of which the disgusting 
gru-gru worm, largely eaten by white men and red, is the 
grub, and it is also one of the most harmful of the so-called 
^ cane-borers ;' for it has passed from the palms, which seem 
its proper home, into the sugar-canes, among which it works 
terrible havoc. Another smaller weevil {Sphenophorua sao- 
chari) is equally abundant and destructive where canes are 
cultivated. Another beetle often seen is a Buprestia 
with purple and green shot wings, which are much 
valued by the Indians as body ornaments. And occa- 
sionally a monstrous elephant beetle {Dynaster herculea) 
may be caught, and if so, it will probably begin to hiss like 
a cat spitting. A curious long-shaped beetle {Elator\ with 
wings that look as if powdered with fine flour, is common 
enough ; and this, more like a child's toy than a real insect, 
if caught and placed on its back, suddenly bends a hinge 
in its body, with a loud clicking noise, with such force that 


ANXa "^■'' ^_ 147 

the insect is hurled to some distance through the air, and 
then flies away. 

The number, variety, and ubicfiiity of the ants is perhaps 
more striking than anything else in the forest. No foot of 
ground, no tree-trunk or creeper, hardly a stem or leaf, is 
without some of these insects. Some even pass the greater 
part of their lives in hollow, jointed plant-stems. They are 
of all sizes, of many colours, and of various degrees of vicious- 
ness. Some wander about singly or in pairs, others in bands 
so vast that only those who have seen will realise their mul- 

Of the solitary kinds, the one that, by its evil repute and 
conduct, most strongly presses itself on the notice of the 
traveller, is the large black manoorie ant {P oner a clavata), the 
sting of which is most painful and often produces fever. It 
sometimes goes up the stems of trees, but generally wanders 
about among the dead leaves on the floor of the forest. In 
such places, because of the fever-giving repute of this ant, I 
was at first always nervous about sitting down ; but after a 
time I found that they as a rule wander round, and even over, 
one without stinging, unless they are pressed or otherwise irri- 
tated. It was nearly two years before I felt the pain of their 
sting. Then, a tall palm-tree which I had cut in order to 
measure, having fallen, not to the ground, but with its crown 
resting on a neighbouring forest tree, and I having therefore 
climbed half-way up its sloping stem, measuring-tape in hand, 
a sudden pain made itself felt in the back of my neck, so in- 
tense that it can only be compared to that which would be 
caused by the sudden application of a red-hot iron ; and this 
pain lasted 8ome time, though it was not, as is often the 
case, followed by fever. 

Of the social ants, on the other hand, the most surprising 
is a species of Edton, called by the Creoles Yackman, the 
name being a corruption of the Dutch word jagdmann, or 
hunter. This insect is indeed a mighty hunter. Its hunting 
parties consist of countless individuals. Of one party that 
passed me one morning I had had wamin^f some little time 

L 2 


before it came in sight, in the rustle and stir which the 
ants and their prey made in the dead leaves. The line of 
march was twenty yards broad, and within that space the 
whole ground was a moving mass of black ants which con- 
tinued to pass for nearly half an hour. Before them fled 
cockroaches, beetles, lizards, and so on ; but they fled in vain, 
for each was caught after an exciting chase and was almost 
immediately covered with ants and devoured. Some ant's, 
as regularly as if told off for the purpose, climbed up each 
tree that was passed, and then, having driven down or de- 
voured all hunted beasts that had fled up the tree for safety, 
instead of troubling themselves to climb down again, simply 
hurled themselves from the branches to the ground, and then 
once more joined the line of march. But the victims were 
not unavenged ; for, following in the train of the ants, a host 
of small ant-eating birds fluttered through the bushes, and 
there eat many of the hunters. On another occasion, spring- 
ing out of my hammock before dawn, I was unfortunate 
enough to put down my bare feet into one of these herds of 
ants. These bands of ants sometimes pass through houses, 
and do good service by clearing out all other insects. vWhere 
they all come from and where they go to is a mystery, for 
I was never able to find their nests. 

Another common, indeed much more common, species of 
social ant is the cooshie {Ecodema cephalotis). In many 
parts of the forest there are places where the yellow, sandy 
earth is piled up in an irregular heap, often many yards in 
diameter, and bare of all vegetation. These are the nests of 
the cooshie ant. From these, parties of cooshies start each 
night, and sometimes by day, to forage, especially for leaves. 
The foraging party starts from home along a well-defined 
narrow path, which before long is worn by the ants as bare as 
any fieldpath is trodden in England. Cultivated plants, 
especially cassava and orange-trees, are specially affected by 
these ants, whose destination as often as not is the field of 
some Indian, or, near the coast, some settler. When once coo- 
shies have found out any cultivated ground, it seems impossible 


to keep them oflF until they have stripped the whole place. 
In one night a party of them will strip every leaf from many 
trees, cutting each into pieces about a quarter of an inch 
across, each of which is carried home to the nest by a single 
ant. It is a most comical and strange sight to see the long 
line, marching home, each ant completely hidden by the 
huge portion of leaf which it carries. I once saw this scene 
under somewhat peculiar circumstances. Being engaged in 
digging in a shell-mound, and, while thus engaged, having 
caught a considerable number of a certain kind of red 
butterfly and put them into a zinc insect-box, I was surprised 
when I looked up to see a long row of small red objects 
moving slowly past me and down the mound; and it was 
only after some seconds that I realised that the cooshies had 
got into my insect-box, had cut my butterflies into small 
pieces and were marching off with them. These ants seemed 
to delight in robbing me ; for, on another occasion, they made 
their way into a tin canister which I had filled overnight 
with a number of orchids which were to be put between the 
drying papers in the morning, and they so completely 
emptied this that there was hardly a shred of green left. 

Another kind of ant always makes its nest round the root 
of a certain showy mauve orchid {iTnatophyllum ro8eu7n\ 
which grows abundantly on some trees on the banks of most 
of the rivers. Or it is possible that the orchid only grows 
in such nests. At any rate, nests and orchids are so inse- 
parable that the Indians when they saw us collecting the 
plants and, somewhat vainly, trying to free them from ants 
by long immersion in water, warned us that the plant could 
not grow without the insect. 

But it is quite impossible to tell of all the different kinds 
of ants. Two methods of stopping an advancing column of 
ants — ^the only two known to me — must, however, be men- 
tioned. One of these is to sprinkle corrosive sublimate in 
front of them ; the result of this being that the ants, on 
reaching the sublimate, attack each other so furiously that 
the column is soon transformed into a ball of struggling 


creatures, apparently fighting each against the others. The 
other method is simply to spit on the path over which the 
ants are about to move; and in this case they always 
turn aside and go by a new and roundabout path. 

The so-called white or wood-ants (Termites) tire in 
general appearance, and still more in habits, so like real ants 
that the common belief in their identity is very intelligible. 
In the interior of Guiana they are at least as ubiquitous as 
true ants. In the forest they build covered ways under which 
they walk in all directions over the ground and up the trunks 
and stems of all plants. The rapidity with which they build 
these tunnels is surprising ; often the loose baggage and pro- 
perties which the traveller, when camping in the forest, puts 
on the ground at night are in the morning found to have a 
wood-ants' tunnel over them. On the savannah another white 
ant, of course of a distinct species, builds huge clay nests, 
shaped like haycocks, often ten or twelve feet high, which 
form one of the most characteristic features in the landscape ; 
and there, at certain seasons of the year, when the winged 
individuals leave the nests, the whole air is darkened with 
their numbers. 

In the forest, among the ants' nests, which hang in appa- 
rently shapeless masses on nearly every tree, there are often 
other irregularly shaped nests of various species of bees, as well 
as the more shapely nests — like those of the corresponding in- 
sects in England — of many kinds of wasps. The bees are for 
the most part much smaller than our domesticated species. 
Some build their nests in hollow trees, but others hang firom 
the tree-trunks black, leathery nests, which look very like 
much battered and brimless felt-hats, and in which the cells are 
very large and contain honey, very slightly viscid, but much 
more of the consistency of water than of English honey, 
with a most highly aromatic and acidulated taste. The 
wasps vary much more in general appearance and size, some 
of them being large and beautifully coloured insects. The 
forest-dwelling social species are indiscriminately called by 
the colonists marabuntas. Many of these have a habit of 


building their nests on the branches of low shrubs, or even 
on the under sides of large leaves ; so that a man forcing his 
way through the bush is very apt to disturb one of these 
nests, and thus effectually to impress the presence of mara- 
buiitas on his recoUectipn. Wherever there is loose sand 
there are sure to be sand-wasps. These beautifully banded 
creatures live in pairs, and' buzz all day long over the sand 
in which they make their nests. I have often amused my- 
self by proving the wonderful instinct for locality possessed 
by these insects, by trampling down, digging into, heaping 
up, and otherwise disturbing the sand in the neighboiurhood 
of their nests ; but, notwithstanding, the insects never failed 
to find their nests. If one failed to find the place when it 
first flew toward it, it retired to a little distance and flew 
once more ; if it still failed it made a third attempt, and I 
never knew this third attempt fail. 

The group of insects to which we now turn are the most 
troublesome of all to the traveller, for it includes mosquitoes, 
sandflies, jiggers, and ticks. 

The various species of mosquito, for there are several, 
are distributed very unevenly in the interior, but are very 
rarely as troublesome there as they are on the coast. It is 
only in a few widely scattered places in the interior that 
mosquitoes are constantly troublesome, but in some other 
places they make their appearance in large numbers during 
the wet seasons. Thus, in travelling during the dry months 
up a river for ten days, perhaps only one of the camping 
places at night is haunted by mosquitoes ; but, on the other 
hand, camps that are entirely firee from these pests during 
the dry season are occasionally visited by them during the 
rains. It is somewhat curious that even in mosquito 
haunts the insects do not make their appearance every 
night, but only, as it sometimes appeared, perhaps every 
alternate night. Some of the worst mosquito-haunts are in 
districts entirely uninhabited even by Indians, and very 
seldom visited; and I often wondered how in such places 
mosquitoes provide themselves with sufficient blood for 


their meals. Animals of various kinds there are doubtless 
in such places, but not, as it appeared to me, in numbers 
large enough to solve this question. It seems, rather, as if 
the sucking of blood is not a normal habit of mosquitoes, but 
that they indulge themselves in this way when they have 
opportunity, not as being necessary to their existence, but 
rather as a treat. 

Sandflies {Simuliumj sp. ? ) of the kind to which the 
name is usually applied are confined to the coast, where they 
occur in very troublesome abundance in most waste, sandy 
ground. But on some of the rivers of the interior their 
place is supplied by another species which I have already 
described under the name of kaboora' in a previous chapter, 
as covering the whole bodies of the Indians and the exposed 
parts of travellers with innumerable small but very irritat- 
ing sores. Away firom rivers these insects are, however, 

The so-called mosquito-worm, or, as it is elsewhere 
called, SBstus-worm, is the larval form of a gadfly. It is 
found, though not very commonly in Guiana, in the flesh of 
men and of other animals. The first warning of its presence 
is a sensation as though caused by the pricking of a needle, 
which is felt not constantly, but at short intervals. As 
this increases in intensity, the part of the flesh affected 
rises as though in a tumour. The animal is a worm-like 
larva, about an inch long, clothed with curious stiff hairs or 
bristles. It must develop from an egg deposited, unnoticed — 
and, it is said, when the subject is bathing — in the flesh, and 
it grows rapidly. The pricking sensation is probably caused 
by the hairs as the animal turns in its position. It is often 
said that the extraction of the animal is a difficult matter ; 
but this really may be easily enough done by completely 
excluding the air for some hours from the affected spot, 
by carefully coating it with sticking-plaister or, if that is not 
at hand, with any of the many natural resins of the forest, 
the result being that when the plaister is removed, the 

» See p. 27. 


insect, either dead or at least no longer firmly fixed in its 
position, is drawn away at the same time. 

A,fiax more troublesome animal, because verj' common, is 
the far-famed jigger or chigoe (PvXex penetrans). This flea 
lives in dust on the ground wherever human beings con- 
gregate. In the untidily kept huts of the negroes and others 
on the coast it is abundant ; but it is in the interior, in the 
settlements of the Indians, which are very frequently built 
on loose sand, that it swarms. The females of these horrible 
little insects penetrate the skin and take up their position be- 
tween that and the flesh of men and domestic animals. Their 
&vourite position is under the soft skin between the nails and 
the fingers or toes, but any attainable part of the body is some- 
times used ; twice they have buried themselves in the flesh 
under the ring on my finger, and there is little doubt that the 
Indian habit of sitting on stools in their houses is due to a 
desire to raise their bodies out of the reach of these insects. 
When once under the skin, these insects, becoming full of 
eggs, increase to about the size, and assume somewhat the 
shape, of peas. If left undisturbed, the whole animal after a 
time drops off on to the ground, where the young presently 
hatch and add greatly to the number of individuals. The round 
patch of skin under which they are, is white surrounded by 
a dark rim. The sensation which they cause in the subject 
is of a somewhat curious kind, and has been described with 
odd variety by travellers either as a painful itching or as a 
rather pleasant tickling ; to me it seems exactly like the 
pain caused » by a severe chilblain. Where these animals 
abound boots are no real protection ; though I was always 
careful to keep my feet covered by day and night in these 
haunts, I have been entered by as many as twenty-three 
insects in one day. Troublesome as they thus are to the 
stranger they are yet more troublesome to the natives. The 
children suffer especially by them, their feet, and, when they 
roll in the sand, their whole bodies, being appropriated by 
the insects. It is not really difficult to extract jiggers, for 
it is only necessary to raise the skin under which they lie 


and pull them out with a needle, and any chance of inflam- 
mation, owing to part of the animal remaining in the sore, 
may be avoided by filling the cavity either with laudanum 
or with tobacco ashes. If, as is sometimes though rarely, 
the case with Indians, and is often the case with negroes 
and others on the coast, jiggers are left undisturbed in the 
foot the whole of the latter becomes seriously aflfected and 
eventually drops away. 

We now come to the last of the really troublesome 
animals. In the forest the bushes are often inhabited by 
bush-ticks {Ixodes ), with flat, hard-looking bodies like tiny 
disc-shaped seeds. These insects seize with their vice-like jaws 
on men and animals as they brush by, and, being carried ofl*, 
bury their heads in the flesh of their victims, and there feed 
till their bodies swell into sack-like bodies of four or five 
times their former size. Probably these animals are very 
locally distributed, for they seldom trouble the traveller, but 
occasionally do so in enormous numbers. They may always 
be made to drop ofi^ either from clothes or flesh by exposure, 
as close as possible, to a fire. 

The three insects which next claim notice are spiders, 
scorpions, and centipedes, all of which may be found in 
abundance by search, but very rarely attack human beings. 

Spiders are certainly very abundant, of many forms, 
some most quaint, of all sizes, from such as are as small as 
our own * money-spiders ' to the great, black, hairy bird-eating 
spider {Mygale avicularia\ which is as big as a baby's fist, 
and of many colours, some being in this respect most beauti- 
ful. The bite of some species, especially of the bird-eating 
spider, i^ said to be dangerous and even sometimes fatal ; 
but though these spiders are common enough, I never knew 
them bite on any occasion. Another very large spider, 
{Phrynua reniformis) occurs on the ground in the mora 
forests about the upper part of the Mazeruni river ; it is said 
that not only the bite of this is very poisonous, but also that 
the insect unprovoked frequently attacks men. This insect, 
being somewhat like a scorpion in appearance, is called by 


the Indians by a name signifying * mother-in-law of scor- 
pions.' Scorpions of two, and perhaps of three, species 
live under stones and fallen wood. It is chiefly the wood- 
cutters in their work of moving timber that come into con- 
tact with these animals. But one small and white species 
has an unpleasant habit of living about the beams of Indian 
houses, where, if it is accidentally touched, it stings ; the 
wound is, however, as I "have experienced, not serious and not 
even very painful. Centipedes, often attaining a length of 
four or five inches, are about as numerous as scorpions, and 
live in the same places. Both alike are, as a rule, only acci- 
dentally seen, but both can be easily found by search. 

Four other insects, of most harmless kinds, are sure to 
attract the notice of the traveller. In describing the hunt- 
ing ants I have already mentioned the bush cockroaches. 
These, which live under every fallen leaf, are much smaller 
than the domestic kind, and seem to be without any oflfen- 
sive odour. Many large grasshoppers live both in the open 
country and in the forest. These are often of most brilliant 
colours, chiefly red or green, and some kinds attain a length 
of foiur inches. The green mantis, or praying-insect, may 
often be seen hunting other insects, but is harmless to man. 
And, lastly, certain curious insects, locally called razor- 
grinders (Cicada, sp. vir.), from the extraordinary sounds 
that they make, or six-o'clocks, from the fact that these 
sounds are redoubled about that homr, are sure to be soon 
noticed. Occasionally in the forest, just before dusk, the 
whole place rings with the whirr of these insects, as though 
fifty pairs of scissors were being sharpened at once on half a 
hundred grindstones ; and from the scattered trees* on the 
savannah another kind sounds a loud prolonged whistle, so 
like that of a railway engine, that, hearing it, it is sometimes 
difficult for a moment to remember that one is on the deso- 
late South American savannah. 






Indian Groups in Guiana — The Value of the Groups — Baoe, Branch, Tribe, 
and Family — Classification of Principal Tribes — Some unimportant or 
little-known Tribes— The term * True Garib*— Tribal Differences in Lan- 
guage, Physical Characters, and Habits — Geographical Distribution of the 
Tribes — Forest Indians and Savannah Indians — Probable History of the 
Tribes — The Earlier Tribes : Warraus, Arawaks, and Wapianas— The 
later Immigration of Carib Tribes. 

The aboriginal population of the whole continent of America 
is made up of an extraordinarily large and disproportionate 
number of more or less well-defined small groups of so-called 
Bed Indians,, which are chiefly distinguishable in that each 
uses either a peculiar vocabulary, or, in the case of the 
minor groups, a peculiar dialect of a vocabulary common to 
several of the larger groups. It has been estimated that 
within the (in round numbers) 15,000,000 square miles of 
the whole continent, there are nearly 500 of these distinct 
vocabularies, and 2,000 dialects. Yet there is one great and 
important feature common to all these diverse languages, so 
immensely numerous in proportion to the extent of land occu- 
pied by them, and absent, with one possible and insignificant 
exception, from the language of the rest of the world : and 
this is, that though the vocabularies of the languages differ, 
their structure is the same and is peculiar. The structure of 
all, and only of these languages, is polysynthetic. This com- 
munity of speech is a strong, though not absolutely certain, 
indication of community of race. When, however, the bodily, 
structure, and to some extent the customs, of these groups of 
Americans are examined, it appears that in these points also, 
with considerable differences there are yet features which are 


on the one hand common to all these groups,- and are on the 
other hand nnr^resented elsewhere in the world. There- 
fore, tested by language and also by structural characters, 
the aboriginal American population proves to be one great 
race distinct from the people of the whole of the rest of the 

The 70,000' square miles of American land which 
now bear the name of British Gruiana contain a number of 
more or less distinct groups of Red Indians, which are 
probably as numerous as in any other district of equal size 
of the same continent. The number of individuals forming 
these groups can hardly be determined, for they live widely, 
more or less thickly scattered, in a country uninhabited, 
and only partially explored, by Europeans. An attempt was 
indeed made about the year 1840, and again in 1881, to 
estimate their number by counting those living along the 
banks of four rivers * supposed to be those most thickly 
inhabited by Indians^ and from these results estimating 
the number elsewhere. The numbers returned fit)m the four 
rivers were, on the first occasion, with somewhat suspicious 
detail, 4,265 ; and from this the Indian population of the 
whole district has been variously estimated as from 12,000 
to 20,000; were I to add another to the guesses which 
have been made about the matter, I should suggest that 
20,000 is probably slightly, but not much, below the real 
number. ^ 

These Indians are known by a very large number of 
different names. Even from the following alphabetical 
list, formidable as it appears, there are probably some 
omissions : — 

Ackawoi. Caribisi. 

Amaripas. Caribs. 

Arawaks. Carinya. 

Airecuna. Cobungru?. 

Arecnma. ' Daurais. 

Atorais. Engaricos. 

' The four rivers were the Pomeroon, Mornca, Waini, and Barrama. 


Kapobn. Psbaraco. 

Lokono. Taruma. 

Macusi. Taurais. 

Maiongkongs. Waocawai. 

Maopitjans. Wapiana. 

Nikari-karus. Warrau. 

Paramona. Worama. 

Partamona. Woyowai. 

Pianoghotto. Zurumutas. 

Many of these names are, however, synonymous ; others 
do not represent distinct groups ; and yet others are names 
of tribes settled beyond the limits of British Guiana, indi- 
vidual members of which occasionally wander across the 
border. It will save trouble if we dispose of these un- 
necessary names at once. The Ackawoi, by a mere variation in 
pronunciation, are also known as Waccawais; and, using neither 
of these names, these people call themselves Kapohn, which 
in their language means simply * the people.' We shall find 
that several tribes have both a name for themselves — that is, 
each calls itself in its own language ^ the people ' — and a 
name used by other Indians. The Arawaks, for instance, 
call themselves Lokono. Arecuna, it would hardly be neces- 
sary to say, but that the two forms are sometimes given in 
ethnological books as distinct, is the same as Arecuma. 
Atorais, Daurais, and Taurais are, I think, identical, though 
Schomburgk considered that the two latter words are sy- 
nonyms of a tribe allied to but not the same as the Atorais. 
It is at least certain that people bearing these three names 
live intermingled in the same settlements. The Caribisi 
are the same as the so-called Caribs ; and Carinya, or 'the 
people,' is their own name for themselves. We shall pre- 
sently find it convenient to reject all these three names and 
to substitute the term True Carib. The last case of sy- 
nonyms iq that of Paramona and Partamona. Names which 
do not represent distinct groups are Cobrungru, i.e. hybrids 
between any Indian and negro; Nikari-karu, i.e. hybrids 
between Macusis and Indians of some Brazilian tribe, or 


perhaps between Macusis and Brazilians of Portuguese 
extraction; Engaricos, i.e. hybrids between Macusis and 
Arecunas. I believe that the Pshavacos and Worumas are 
also names for hybrids between some two of the better-known 
tribes. The Maiongkongs and the Piriana are tribes living 
beyond the British border, which they only occasionally cross. 
Thus we have already greatly simplified the list of tribes 
with which we are concerned. It now stands thus : — 

Ackawoi. Paramona. 

Amaripas. Pianoghotto. 

Arawak. Taruma. 

Arecuna. Wapiana. 

Atorais. Warrau. 

True Caribs. Woyowai. 

Macusi. Zurumutas. 

Each of these groups has a name for itself, and a name 
by which it is known by Indians of other groups. Some- 
times the esoteric name and the exoteric are the same, 
sometimes they are difiFerent. But, however this may be, 
the existence of such a name indicates a certain amount of 
distinctness in the group. » 

It is absolutely necessary, before proceeding to define 
certain terms, to express the value of the difiFerent groups 
with which we shall have to deal. The indiscriminate use 
of such terms as family, nation, branch, race, group, gens, 
phratry, can only lead to confusion. In the absence of any 
common standard usually accepted, I am obliged to explain 
the exact sense in which I shall use certain divisional terms. 
The four words which I shall require are race, branch, tribe, 
and family. By race I mean to express the whole group cf red- » 
skinned Americans, whose language varies greatly in vocabu- 
lary, but is absolutely uniform in structure. By a branch I 
mean such a portion of this race as is distinguished by the use 
of a vocabulary common and peculiar to that portion ; for ex- 
ample, all members of the Carib branch use, with more or 
less dialectic variations, the Carib vocabulary. It must be 


noted that this mark of distinction of a branch is not 
absolutely exact, for there are occasionally a few single 
words common to the vocabularies of two or more different 
branches ;. for example, the word * geaiman,' which means 
* medicine-man,' appears to be common to the Carib, the Ara- 
wak, and other vocabularies. But the general distinctness of 
the vocabularies is sufficient to distinguish the branches using 
th^m respectively. By a tribe I mean to express such a 
portion of a branch as uses the vocabulary common to that 
branch, but with dialectic variations peculiar to itself ; for 
instance, the Macusis and the True Caribs are different 
tribes of the Carib branch. This mark of distinction of the 
tribe is, again, not absolutely exact, for two tribes using two 
dialects of a vocabulary common to their branch occasionally 
use distinct, and not merely dialectically differing, words ; 
for example, though both are of the Carib branch, the True 
Caribs call fire * wotah,' while the Macusis call it * apo.' A 
possible explanation of this is, that one or other of these 
divergent pairs of words has been borrowed from the language 
of some other branch with which the tribe using it has in 
past history come in contact.' But the difference, if any, 
between the mass of words used by two tribes of the same 
branch being merely dialectic, the distinctness of the tribes 
and the community of the branch may be assumed. 

With the last divisional term, family, we shall not be 
concerned in this chapter ; but for the sake of freeing our- 
selves once for all from such definitions, it may be as well to 
explain it briefly here. There are signs of a separation 
within the tribe into families, such as the &milies, or 
perhaps rather the clans, of our own society; and these 
families within Indian tribes are kept distinct by means 
of certain regulations, which will afterwards be described, 
concerning marriage, and by the fact that each has an in- 
alienable name of its own. The somewhat obscure family- 

* Snch divergent words are, therefore, of great Importance, since, if 
they can be traced to other vocabnlaries, they certainly indicate intercourse 
between the two tribes, of different branches, using them. 



system of South American Indians is, in &ct, identical with 
the better-known totem-system of North American Indians. 
It is hardly necessary to add that each family is of course 
marked by no very great diflference in language ; yet, 
because of the great scope for divergence in pronjancia- 
tion which is allowed by the fact that the language is un- 
written, and that each of the families by which it is spoken 
lives to a certain extent secluded from the others, small dif- 
ferences of pronunciation, not sufficiently fixed to be regarded 
as dialectic, are often acquired by the separate families.. 
There is some importance about the last-mentioned feict, 
in that possibly the &mily, when it becomes numerous and 
changes its locality, becomes a tribe, which, in the course 
of long periods, may, by splitting, possibly develop into a 
branch; and if this is so, the small peculiarities of pro- 
nunciation belonging to the family develop, as it becomes 
a tribe, into the dialect of that tribe, and afterward, as this 
tribe becomes a branch, into the distinct vocabulary of that 

It being very important to make these divisional terms 
clear, they may be tabulated thus : — 


1. Race 

2. Branch 

3. Tribe 

4. Family 



r Language, whatever the ▼ocabulary,'! 
• of uniform (polyaynthetic) struc- > 

t ture J 

r Language in structure that of thel 
I race, but with a distinct and pecu- |^ 
t liar vocabulary ... J 

{Structure and vocabulary of Ian- 1 
guage like that of the branch, but I 
with peculiar dialectic variations J 
' Each with a distinct family name, the 1 
distinctness of the family marked I 
by certain regulations as regards | 
intermarriage .... J 




True Carib. 

Onisidu (an Ara- 
wak Family). 

As has already been indicated, I am fully aware of the 
danger of trusting solely to differences of language as a means 
of classification. But it is far the most ready means ; and if 
a classification thus made is confirmed by such differences as 



can be found in the bodily stmcture and appearance of the 
Indians, in their customs and habits of thought, it may, I 
think, be safely adopted. It must, indeed, be adopted, and 
all effort must be made to elaborate it more and more — un- 
less, as is not likely to happen, some new and more satis- 
factory method is discovered. We shall find that, though 
there are no very great differences other than those of lan- 
guage among the Indians of Guiana (which fact shows that 
they are all not very divergent members of the same race), 
yet that there are physical differences — as, for instance, in 
height, in build and strength, in features and in colour of 
skin ; that there are also differences in custom — as, for in- 
stance, in the objects and methods of manufacture, and in 
care for cleanliness and modesty ; and, lastly, that all these 
differences correspond with those in language. To this it 
may be added that corresponding differences in the degree 
of mutual hostility between the various groups lends farther 
evidence ; for though every group ignores all others as &r 
as it can, and when perforce it must meet others, regards 
these as hostile, yet this feeling of aversion is greater be- 
tween two tribes of different branches — ^for example, between 
True Caribs and Arawaks — than between two of the same 
branch — for example, Macusis and Arecunas. 

Using the tests of difference and of degree of difference 
with which we have thus provided ourselves, we find that, 
omitting for the present certain groups which are either 
fragmentary or little known, there are in Guiana four 
branches of the American race — ^the Warraus, Arawaks, Wa- 
pianas, and Caribs ; farther, that two of these, the Warraus 
and the Arawaks, cannot be distinguished into tribes ; that 
the third, the Wapianas, is probably represented by three 
tribes — the True Wapianas, Atorais, and Amaripas ; and, lastly, 
that the fourth branch, the Carib, is represented by four 
tribes — the True Caribs, Ackawoi, Macusi and Arecuna. One 
or two of these tribes have attached to them various small 
groups, which may perhaps be regarded as sub-tribes. The 
following table will make the matter more clear — : 







laxia . . . < 


Carib .... 

True Wapiana. 
Tme (krib. 
Ackawoi . , 

Macnsi . . 





. If this table is compared with the list of groups given on 
p. 159 it will be found that the only omissions from the 
classification here suggested are the Maopityans, Tarumas, 
and Woyowais. Without vocabularies, and indeed without 
almost any knowledge of these three tribes, I am unable 
to class them. The Tarumas appear to be a tribe — ^perhaps 
not belonging to any of the branches which I have dis- 
tinguished in British Guiana — which, according to Sir 
Robert Schomburgk and the Brazilian traveller Von Martins, 
reached their present position from the south, by way of the 
Rio Negro ; and the fact that the Maopityans live with the 
Tarumas, the two conversing with a common vocabulary, 
seems to indicate that the two are tribes of the same 
branch, whatever that may be. Of the Woyowais only the 
name is known. 

Some explanation is necessary of the terms True Carib, 
and True Wapiana, which I am the first to use. The 
Indians of the True Carib tribe are in Gruiana known simply 
as Caribs or as Caribisi, and they call themselves Carinya. 
But none of these three terms are satisfactory. Not only this 
tribe, but several others in Guiana — namely, the Ackawoi, 
Arecuna, and Macusi tribes— belong to the Carib branch ; to 
use the simple term Carib indiflFerently of the tribe and of 
the branch is therefore apt to confuse. An attempt has 
been made to distinguish between branch and tribe by 
calling the former Carib, the latter Caribisi. But this latter 
term seems to have originated in a mistake. The word Cari- 
bisi is Arawak, and means the * Carib's place,' or * Carib's 
home ; ' just as Ituribisci, the name of a small river of Guiana, 

X 2 


means ^ the home of the ituri or howling monkey ; ' and as 
Aroabisci, the name of a well-known district in Gruiana, means 
^.the home of the aroa or jaguar.' The traveller in passing up 
some river often has his attention called to some settlement 
by his Arawak companions, who, with bated breath, point to 
it and ejaculate ^ Garibisi,' which merely means to say that 
(True) Caribs live there ; or, as I have again and again ex- 
perienced, if the traveller himself asks who lives at some 
settlement which is in sight, the answer of the Arawaks 
invariably ia ^ Garibisi ; ' by a not unnatural mistake, 
travellers have therefore supposed that Garibisi is simply 
the name of the tribe. The term may therefore be ex- 
punged from ethnological lists. But we have not yet found 
a name for the Garib tribe, as distinguished from the Garib 
branch, in Guiana. It might seem natural to use ^ Garinya,' 
their own name for themselves, for this purpose ; but this 
term has the disadvantage of being unfamiliar to ethnolo- 
gists. Every purpose is answered by calling the tribe True 
Gaiibs, and extending the term Garib to the whole branch. 
Just in the same way, as it appears that there are several 
other tribes belongiug to the branch of which the Wapianas 
are the largest and best known tribe, it is convenient to use 
the term True Wapianaof the tribe, Wapiana of the branch. 
It may be added that very possibly the Warrau and Arawak 
groups ' are each of them really only of tribal rank,^ but as, 
in each of these two cases, the other tribes which go to 
make up the branch are unknown or unrepresented in 
Guiana, it is more convenient for our present purpose to 
regard each of them as a complete branch represented only 
by a single tribe. 

We turn now to the marks of difference in language, in 
physical characters, and in habits, which distinguish these 
groups, as either branches or tribes. In the following 
chapters, more or less of these differences will be recorded ; 

1 For example, I believe that if materials were available for a compari- 
son of South American groups generally, it would be found that the 
Warraos are a tribe of the Guarani branch. 



but here may be collected, as a necessary preliminary, just 
sufficient of these to show the distinctness and values of the 

- The languages of the four branches, Warrau, Aiawak, 
Wapiana, and Carib, will be found to be quite distinct from 
each other ; or, if a few common words are found, these are 
so few that they may be explained as due to accidental 
borrowing by one branch from the other. But within the 
languages are dialects diflfering more or less from each other. 
In the Wanuu and Arawak languages respectively, this 
diversity amounts to no more than very slight differences of 
pronunciation adopted by separate families of each grou]). 
The Wapiana language and the Carib are, again, distinct 
from each other and from either Warrau or Arawak. But 
differing dialects of the Wapiana language are spoken by the 
True Wapianas and the Atorais, and possibly a third by the 
Amaripas. So, too, of the Carib language there are four 
different dialects spoken by the True Caribs, Ackawoi, 
Macusi, and Arecuna respectively ; and these dialects have 
been commonly, but quite wrongly, spoken of as distinct 
languages. The Macusi dialect is very closely similar to the 
Arecuna, from which it differs chiefly in the mode of pro- 
nunciation; and a similar dialect, with a few exceptional 
differences, principally in the lower numerals, is used by the 
Ackawoi. A Macusi, an Arecuna, and an Ackawoi speak 
quite intelligibly the one to the other. The remaining 
dialect of this language — that of the True Caribs — is, though 
the relationship is very recognisable, somewhat more dis- 
tinct ; for while most of the words are identical with those 
of the three former dialects, yet some are altogether distinct. 
A few examples must here suffice to explain the matter : — 























— a 



p N^ -^ "-^ 

5 s.§ g 

■§^8-2 If^ i^l 

E -- fl A w W 

^ ^ « ^ - S ^ 3 .3 

fl P4 ^ '§ 

p OS 

Ji4 ^ 

O .^ g g M 

a <i: - iS s ® 

^% S 5 J J 


.««» '"^ "^ '^ 'S ^ 

3-3 8d'SiSi1 





"^ :a s 'S 



2 rt 

- M - 2 g 

^ -^ ^ E 03 

a> *& 

S H4 


e & 

i^ 6 

fl .* 

OQ 41 

J5 «M 

08 O 



It is not very easy to describe the distmguishing physical 
characteristics of these groups, for, after all, all being of 
the same race, the differences are but small. A stranger 
invariably finds it impossible to distinguish, merely from 
appearance, the members of the different tribes, or even 
branches ; yet after a time the eye becomes accustomed to 
the task, and recognises instinctively the tribe of any given 

Though all are, according to the • ordinary English 
standard, short, the Warraus are the shortest. They have, 
too, even less developed muscles than the other tribes. They 
are thickly built, and the neck especially is short and thick. 
The trunk is unusually long in proportion to the legs ; and 
the feet, perhaps in consequence of the soft and muddy 
nature of the ground about the usual homes of these people, 
are unusually flat and broad. The expression of the fece is 
strikingly dull, unintelligent, and gloomy. The colour of 
the skin is apparently very dark ; but this is in reality due 
to the filthy state in which they live, and the dirt which en- 
crusts them. The Arawaks are slightly taller than the 
Warraus ; their bodies, though short and broad, are far better 
proportioned ; their skin, not only appears much lighter in 
colour, because of their more cleanly habits, but in reality is 
slightly so ; and the expression of their faces is far brighter 
and more intelligent. The Wapianas are, for Indians, 
unusually tall ; their bodies are slight and well-built, and 
their faces, because of the regularity and better form of 
the features, are far finer. The tribes of the Carib branch 
are all in a greater or less degree marked by a darker skin. 
The True Caribs are somewhat taller than the Arawaks ; 
their bodies are better built and, both in appearance and 
reality, have far greater strength ; their features are coarser, 
but such as to give the appearance of greater power. 
The Ackawoi are like the True Caribs, but somewhat 
shorter and slighter in the body; and perhaps owing to 
their habits, they are somewhat miserable in appearance. 
The Macusis are even darker than the True Caribs and 


Ackawoi in colour, but are taller, slighter, and better made ; 
their features are more regular, and their expression is bright 
and intelligent, but somewhat timid* The Arecunas have 
the darkest skins of all ; their bodies are like those of the 
Macusis, but more powerful ; and similarly their features are 
like, as is their expression, but that the latter is far more 
bold and warlike. 

Evidently these physical diflFerences would by them- 
selves be insufficient to distinguish the groups. Nor are 
the differences in habit very great. 

The Warraus are timid people, despised by other Indians, 
and, apparently, with but a poor opinion of themselves. 
Except in the rare oases in which they have been partly civi- 
lised, their personal habits are, as is rarely the case among 
these Indians, very filthy. They live, or did tiU lately live, in 
miserable houses, raised on piles over swampy ground, or 
even over water. Xhey are the great canoe-builders for the 
surrounding tribes. It must be added that a considerable 
number of the tribe have lately been induced to settle round 
the mission stations. As the Warraus are the filthiest, so the 
Arawaks are the cleanliest of all the Indians. This may be 
partly due to the fact that the latter, living just in the dis- 
trict which was earliest, and has been continuously, occupied 
by Europeans, and having always held friendly relations with 
these Europeans, have, -more than-^any other tribe, become 
to a certain extent civilised; that is to say, though they 
still use houses of their original pattern, these are cleaner 
than those of other Indians, are sometimes made partly 
private by partitions, and are even furnished oocasionally 
with a wooden table and benches. With very few exceptions 
they can all speak English, and, at least in the presence of 
white men, they wear European clothes. This degree of civil- 
isation has greatly obscured their proper habits, as is well and 
significantly illustrated by the fact that they are the only 
tribe which' has not, at the present time, any special manu- 
facture of some kind of object useful for trade with the other 
Indians, such, for instance, as the canoe-building of the 


Warraus, One of their old habits is, however, still very 
discernible, and this is their av^rsi^a. from other tribes, and 
especially their hatred of the True Caribs. The Wapiana, with 
the allied groups of Atorais and Amaripas, none of which is it 
any longer possible to distinguish in habit, are, as usual, averse 
to intercourse in most matters with other tribes, but yet they 
are the great traders of the district, serving as middlemen, 
through whose hands the manufactures of each tribe pas^ to 
the other. They are themselves, moreover, the great canpe- 
makers of the interior, as the Warraus are of the coast. 
Another respect in which they differ from the other tribes 
of Guiana is, that they alone eat much of the cassava, which 
forms the chief vegetable food of aU the tribes, in the form, not 
of bread or cakes, but of that rough meal which is common 
in the Brazils under the name of farine. All the Garib 
tribes are, though in various degree, more warlike than any 
of the other tribes, and are consequently especial objects of 
dread. Most warlike in reputat|bn| £^nd m)(st dreaded of all, 
are the True Caribs. There appears to be a special feeling 
of enmity between them and the Arawaks. They are pecu- 
liar among the tribes in that they occupy no special district, 
but are scattered more or less thickly through the country. 
They are the great makers of pottejy, though this is also 
made, to some small extent, by their kindred the Ackawoi^ 
The last-mentioned tribe are perhaps chiefly peculiar for the 
fact that they make almost all that they want for themselves, 
and have but little communication with other Indians. Just 
as the True Caribs are dreaded as the most warlike tribe, so the 
Ackawoi are as the most harmful, in a sly, underhand way. 
Perhaps, because of their seclusion, they are, though by no 
means so filthy in their habits as the Warraus, yet far less 
cleanly than any of the other tribes. The Macusis and the 
Arecunas are in habits, as in language, much alike. A strong 
hostile feeling, however, separates them, and this is mani- 
fested by the gentlet Macusis chiefly in their dread of their 
feUow tribe, and by the bolder Arecunas chiefly in contempt 
for the Macusis, Both are cleanly in their habits, but the 


Macusis excel in this respect not only the Arecnnas but 
also all other tribes, with the possible exception of the semi- 
civilised Arawaks. 

The diflferences which we have now seen in the languages, 
physique, and habits of the tribes, if taken together, are 
sufficient, on the one hand, to show the distinctness of 
the groups, and, on the other, to class them as tribes, or 
branches, according to the table given on p. 1 63. 

Accepting this classification, the next point to be con- 
sidered is the geographical position now occupied by these 
tribes. The distribution of the tribes is as follows. For our 
present purpose the whole country may be regarded as con- 
sisting of three regions, parallel to each other and to the 
coast. In the earlier part of the book it was convenient to 
distinguish four of these regions ; but now we may regard 
two of these— the timber and the forest-region — as one whole, 
which we may call the forest-region. Nearest the sea, there- 
fore, is the coast-region ; within that the forest-region ; and 
within that again the savannah-region, passing without 
break into the great savannahs of Brazil. The northernmost 
part of the coast-region, toward the sources of the Orinoco, 
and nearest to the West Indian islands, is inhabited by the 
Warrau Indians, and the rest of it by the Arawaks. Here 
and there, however, throughout the whole region, but far 
more commonly in the north than in the south, are single 
settlements of True Caribs, who occupy no distinct territory, 
but live more or less scattered among the other tribes. 

The forest-region is almost entirely inhabited by the 
Ackawoi, though in this district also a few scattered True 
Caribs may be found. 

The savannah-region is peopled by several tribes. 
Beginning from the north, toward the Orinoco, these are the 
Arecunas, Macusis, the Wapianas (with whom live the 
Atorais and the Amaripas), the Tarumas (with whom live the 
few remnants of the Maopityans), and lastly, occupying a very 
isolated position, the Pianoghottos. With the exceptions of 
the Atorais and the Amaripas, who live intermingled in the 


same settlements with the Wapianas, and the Maopityans, 
who live with the Tarumas, each tribe occupies a distinct 
territory. But these territories are in no way distinguished 
by marked geographical boundaries, and are probably not 
even exactly defined in the minds of the Indians. Here and 
there also travellers report the existence of other groups ; 
but these are in reality not tribes, but groups of hybrids 
between two tribes. For instance, where the Arecuna territory 
borders on the Macusi is a hybrid people called Engaricos. 

Here may be inserted an explanation of two terms which 
it will be convenient to use frequently in the ensuing 
chapters : these are ^ forest Indians ' and ^ savannah Indians.' 
The customs of these people are naturally considerably 
affected according as they live on the open savannah or in 
the recesses of the forest ; e.g. we shall find that very different 
houses are built on the two places respectively. It is there- 
fore evident that it will be convenient to speak of the savannah 
Indians and of the forest Indians, though it must always be 
borne in mind that these terms do not correspond with any 
difference of race — for instance, of the Ackawoi and Macu- 
sis, both of Carib race, the former tribe includes none but 
forest Indians, the latter none but savannah Indians. 

The last point with which I have now to deal is the way 
in which these tribes reached the positions which they at 
present occupy. In the first place, the branches may, I 
think, be distinguished into two sets. The Carib tribes seem 
to me to represent migrations into the country already oc- 
cupied by the other tribes. In the absence of better terms, 
the one set, including the Warraus, Arawaks, and Wapianas, 
may be distinguished as Tiative tribes ; the other set, includ- 
ing all the Carib branch, as stranger tribes. That there is 
some difference between these two groups seems indicated 
both by the fact that the native tribes, though they belong 
to three distinct branches, with languages mutually unin- 
telligible, are yet all united by a common feeling of aversion 
from the stranger tribes greater than that which they feel for 
each other \ and also by the fact, which will be explained in 


greater detail in a fature chapter, that the native tribes all 
make their hammocks, which, it mnst be remembered, are, 
next to food, the chief necessary of life to the Indians, of the 
fibre of a palm {Mauritia fiexuoaa) which is excessively 
common in Guiana, while the stranger tribes make their 
hammocks of cotton ; and moreover, the two, as will also be 
explained later, spin the threads respectively of pabn-fibre 
and cotton, of which their hammocks are made, differently. 

As to the native tribes, it must of course not be taken for 
granted that they were, in any real sense of the term, abo- 
riginal ; but in our present state of knowledge it is impossible 
even to guess either the quarter whence, or the time when, 
they reached Gruiana. It has indeed been suggested that 
the Arawaks reached the mainland from the West India 
islands ; but the evidence for this is too slight to be worth 
considering. All that we can suppose is that the Warraus at 
the time of the Carib immigration, as chiefly now, occupied 
the swamps south of the mouth of the Orinoco ; that the Ara^ 
waks occupied a long line of coast stretching south-east from 
the Warrau country ; and that the Wapianas, with the Atorais 
and Amaripas, and, probably, with some other tribes which 
are now either unrepresented or are represented only by the 
fragmentary tribes to which I have alluded as existing on the 
outskirts of Guiana, occupied the whole of the savannahs of 
the interior, which are now partly occupied by the Macusis 
and Arecunas. Such I suppose to have been the distribu- 
tion of the tribes before it was disturbed by the arrival of 
any of the warlike Carib branch. 

Then came the Caribs. There are two theories as to 
this Carib migration. One is, that all the Carib tribes reached 
Guiana by land, and that certain of the branch crossed from 
there to the islands, where they formed the ^ Island Caribs ' 
who inhabited the Antilles at the time of their discovery by 
Europeans, and of whom a very few still remain in Dominica 
and St. Vincent. The second theory, which I much prefer, 
as apparently substantiated by many of the facts which I 
shall have to tell in the following chapters, is, that all 


the Carib tribes now in Guiana reached that part of the 
mainland from the islands. How, before that, they reached 
the islands is a matter that does not at present concern us. 
Our immediate concern is with the probability of the fact 
that the M acusis and Arecunas, the Ackawoi and the True 
Caribs, first reached the mainland of Gruiana from the islands. 
These four tribes represent, I think, four distinct immi- 
grations. Perhaps each of these tribes acquired tribal dis- 
tinction by living in a different island; or more probably 
their distinctness is merely due to the long intervals which 
elapsed between their migrations to the mainland and to the 
seclusion in which each party lived after its migration. A 
glance at the map will show that Trinidad, the last of the 
long chain of the West Indian islands, between no two of 
which intervenes a longer distance than might easily have 
been traversed by Caribs in their canoes, lies close to the 
mainland, opposite to the country about the mouth of the 
Orinoco. That, therefore, is the point of the mainland which 
the Indians would first reach. But instead of land suitable 
and pleasant to Indians, there is there only a huge swamp, in 
which the miserable Warraus drag out a wretched existence. 
The Macusis therefore, on their arrival, passed up the Ori- 
noco, on the banks of which they were living, as Robert 
Schomburgk has shown, probably as lately as Sir Walter 
Raleigh's time.^ After the Macusis, the Arecunas came from 
the islands and passed, as the latter had done, up the 
Orinoco. In their advance they drove the Macusis, first, 
further up the river, then from the river, and lastly south- 
ward on to the savannah ; and they occupied each successive 
district in w'hich the latter had lived. Traces of this long 
chase stiU remain in the dread which the Macusis feel of the 
Arecunas, as in the contempt which the latter feel for the 
former. Whether the Ackawoi reached Guiana before or 
after the Macusis, or even before or after the Arecunas. is a 
question which will probably never admit of solution, if, as is 

» The DUcaverie of Ouyana, By Sir Walter Raleigh. Edited by Sir 
Bobert Schomburgk for the Hakluyt Society, p. 78, note 1. 


most likely, they proceeded, on reaching the mainland, in 
different directions. The M acusis and Arecunas, as has been 
said, proceeded up the Orinoco, but the Ackawoi, on the 
other hand, probably passed downward along the sea-coast, 
through the country then and now occupied by the 
Arawaks ; and, not being able to drive these latter out, they 
wandered into their present home, behind the Arawak 
country, at some distance from the sea. We shall find 
strong evidence for the supposition that a similar divergence 
down the coast, instead of up the Orinoco, was at a later 
period — almost indeed within historic times — made by the 
True Caribs. It seems almost certain that these latter 
represent a later, and probably a much later, migration than 
do the three others. They reached Gruiana about the end 
of the sixteenth century. That they did not try to settle 
on the mainland much earlier is sufficiently shown by the 
fact that they, with a warlike reputation and a real power 
which would most certainly have enabled them to gain for 
themselves a distinct territory such as that occupied by the 
other, less powerful tribes, had they not arrived simul- 
taneously with the earliest European settlers, were, owing to 
the presence of the more powerful white man, unable to 
drive out the former inhabitants and to take possession of any 
distinct tract of country ; so that to this day they, the most 
powerful of all the tribes, live scattered amongst^the other 
tribes, but far more numerously in the district between the 
Orinoco and the Pomeroon — the district, thai is, in which 
they first arrived — than elsewhere. 

Such appears to me the most probable explanation of the 
present position of all the tribes, both those which took part 
in the great and comparatively recent migrations of the 
Caribs from the islands to the mainland, and those which 
were settled at an earlier time in the country. 

In conclusion, I can only excuse the dryness of the 
details given in this chapter on the ground that they are in- 
tended to provide a knowledge which may make the facts, 
which will, I trust, be more generally interesting, of the 
succeeding chapters intelligible. 




Arawak System as Type — Description of the System — List of Family 
Names — Origin of the Names — Method of keeping Families Distinct — 
Co-existing but C!ontradictory System of Bride-lifting — Evidence of 
Existence of this latter System — Two possible Explanations. 

As in very many other parts of the world, within some of 
the tribes of Grniana there are more or less strong indica- 
tions of further subdivision into families ; and where this 
occurs there are traces of certain laws regulating the inter- 
marriage of members of these families. It may safely be 
assumed that between members of diflFerent tribes there was 
formeriy no intermarriage, except such as took place when a 
woman captured in war was taken to wife by her captor ; and 
even now tribal intermarriage is, except at missions, a rare 
event. The marriage is now therefore almost always, as 
formerly it was always, except in cases of capture, between 
members of different families. In most tribes it is now 
very difficult to trace these different families, and it is 
correspondingly difficult to understand the laws prohibitory 
and permissive of intermarriage, especially as these are now 
very laxly observed. The Arawaks alone of all the tribes 
have till very recently preserved their lines of &mily descent 
somewhat strictly ; but even they have now become so lax in 
the matter that the outlines of their system are already much 
blurred. Their system, as &r as it can be discerned, may, 
however, serve as a type of those which, probably with some 
differences, once prevailed in several, if not all, the other 

It has long been known that the Arawaks are divided 


into a great number of £9.niilies. A certain traveller in Gruiana, 
named Hillhou^e, having, about the year 1 830, published a Ust 
of twenty-three names of such fEimilies, it has been stated by 
writer after writer, up to the present time, that twenty-three 
is the exact number of the &milies. This is flEu- from the case. 
Mr. McClintock, a man well known in G-uiana, who has 
lived longer among the Arawaks, and has mixed more freely 
with them than any other European, was good enough to 
supply me with a list of fifty of these names. It iB true that on 
analysis it appears that among these are one or two instances 
of duplicates, one name having been corrupted into two; 
yet after allowance has been made for this the number of 
distinct family names as yet ascertained amounts to at least 
forty-seven ; and it is almost equally certain that there are 
others yet to be recorded. 

Before giving the list of names it may be as well to point 
out that each name occurs under three forms, which, how- 
ever, differ only in the termination : a plural or collective 
form which expresses the whole family ; a singular, masculine 
form expressing one individual man of the family; and a 
singular feminine form expressing one individual woman of the 
family. For example, in a family the collective name of which 
is KamafoTia any individual man of this jfemily is spoken of 
as a Karuafodie^ and any individual woman as Karuafodo. 
The final syllable in each of these three cases is evidently 
merely an additional qualifying suffix, and has nothing to do 
with the real name of the femily. These suffixes, collective, 
male, and female, occur in each of the names. As in the 
above case, die is generally the masculine, do the female, 
and 7ia the collective termination ; but occasionally the mas- 
culine and feminine forms are, for some unexplained reason,' 
tie and to respectively. Of course, in seeking the derivation 
of the names these terminations must be rejected. 

In the following list of known names where the mascu- 
line and feminine terminations are regular — that is, are die 
and do respectively — they are omitted. 

1* Kamafond, One informant gives the meaning 


of this as 'froTYi the grassy land^ from karau or Jcarow — 
grass. He adds that a man who lived on the open savannah 
— which, by the way, is a very rare position for an Arawak 
house — is called karoa kondi. The derivation of the name 
is, as he says, obscure, and must remain so unless the legend 
which is doubtless connect>ed with it can be discovered. 
Another suggestion is, that it is from karaoivkoan — ^Tiot 
weight enough ' — but there is little evidence in favour of this. 

2. Oniah^na. The meaning of this is given as ^ from 
the rai/n or water J Another suggestion is * rainhead^ from 
a word onishi. What the meaning of *rainhead' may be 
does riot appear. Yet another gives the meaning as * he wha 
sends rain^ and adds that Mf rain fall inopportunely the 
Arawak Indian sometimes curses the ^^ceniddu^^ — thus, 
" halhitu oen'cid/iL.^^ ' At any rate, the root involved seems 
to be the important un or oon which, with the meaning of 
rain and water, is common to many of the Indian languages 
of South America. 

3. Koiamo. This is peculiar in that its collective ter- 
mination seems to be no instead of na. The masculine and 
feminine terminations are tie and to respectively. In Hill- 
house's list, in Montgomery Martin's 'West Indies,' it is 
spelled * QueyuruntoJ* The meaning seems to be, ^from 
the deer ' (cuiaro). Another improbable derivation given is 
* the turners hacky from koiaroina — ' to turn back.' 

4. UrahJcima, ^from the ourali or bloodwood treeJ* 

5. Hairhia (mas. ^ie,.fem. to\ ^from the wild plantain 
tree! The plant'] usually known under this name is the 
very striking Ravenala guiam^ensis^ but the same name is 
also applied to several species of Heliconia. 

6. Tobotdna, ^from the black monkey.^ I am not sure, 
but I think the species referred to is Ateles beelzebub, 

7. Haiawafdna, ^from the hyawa tree^ (Idea hepta- 
phyllay—SL species df tree which, because of the abundant 
and highly perfumed resin which it produces, which is much 
used by the Indians for such purposes as the rapid kindling 
of fire, the making of torches, and to scent the oils with 



which they anoint their bodies, is well marked to Indian 
eyes from other trees of the forest. 

The syllable /o, which intervenes between the root>-word 
and the terminal syllable in this and other cases {cf. No. 1), 
is puzzling, 

8. Demar^na. Various interpretations are given of this 
name. One is that it means *from the water-nnaTnaj or 
rather ^from certain spirits^ dwelling usually underground. 
There is much confusion as to these legendary beings, there 
being supposed to be many of various sorts living in various 
places. The water-mama, one of these kinds of spirits, 
which is supposed to live under the water of rivers, is often 
used for supernatural beings in general. Two other inter- 
pretations of the name, both very unlikely, are that it means 
^ rivals,' and another that it means ^ from the Demerara 

This family are said to intermarry with the Karobaharut 
family (see No. 25), in accordance with an old legend. This 
case of the especially lawftil intermarriage of two particular 
tribes is curious and deserves attention. It is possible that it 
is the last trace of a marriage regulation which is known to 
have existed elsewhere in similar societies. For example, in 
Morgan's * Ancient Society ' (p. 90) it is stated that among 
the Iroquois of North America, which trihe was divided into 
a number of familiea or clans^^ it was originally the custom 
that each man of one of these families might marry a wife, 
not from his own family, or even from any one of the other 
families, but only from certain of these other families. 
Thus, a man of the Wolf family might not marry a woman 
of the Wolf, Bear, Beaver, or Turtle families, but he might 
marry one of the Deer family. The legend among the 
Arawaks of the custom of intermarriage of the Demarena 
and the Karobahana may be referable to a former regulation 
similar to that among the Iroquois. 

> It will be observed that I have here osed the terms tribCf and familff or 
ijU^f as being the terms which I have used throughout as the eqoivalients 
of the terms used in the passage referred to bj Mr. Morgan. 


9. Wahiywaa. The family sprung ^from the redbreast 
hird^ {Leiates americana)y called wahiya in Arawak, 
This bird is one of the commonest and most striking in 
the coast region of Guiana, to which the Arawaks are 

10. Kamikaihi/mildnay otherwise given as aJcamihi/na 
{mas. tiej fem. to). There is almost certainly some error in 
the transcription of this name. No one can afford a satis- 
factory interpretation. It has been suggested that it has 
something to do with kannakain^ * it can take Trior e ; ' and 
another correspondent says ' kannakiTnukiTui ' means * good 
waters ; ' but I can give no opinion on the word. 

11. Dakamokcmay ^from the dakdma tree, a tree bearing 
a nut like souari {Pekea tuberculosa), the kernel of which is 
grated and baked with cassava meal when cassava is scarce. 

12. MadayaUfna, also given as moukina (mas. tie, fem. 
to) — the family coming ^from a treeless place,^ perhaps 
* from a savannah.' 

13. Hekorowaiia, ^from, a tortoise. Hekorie is the 
Arawak name of the tortoise. 

14. Awarakana, ^frora the awara palm ' {Astrocaryum 
tucwTTundes) — a very common palm near Indian settlements 
on the coast, the fruit of which is eaten with great relish 
and is also used for the production of oil. The young leaves 
are also used to make the fans for blowing the fire which 

^are an indispensable property of all Indians. The tree is, 
therefore, one certain to have attracted their notice. 

15. Kaiokana, ^from a rat! The word kaio is the 
Arawak name for a species of rat. Another informant, on 
the other hand, says this family takes its name from a tree, 
but gives no information as to the kind of tree. 

16. ETYiatana (mas. tie, fem. to). The meaning of this 
has not been traced. 

17. Ebesowana. This seems to mean * the changed or 
transformed! The word ^ejsoa means * to change.' The 
name might just possibly refer to an admixture of Carib 
blood. The members of the family, however, deny that 

N 2 


there is any foreign blood in them. They derive their name 
from the tradition of a change or magical transformation 
undergone by an ancestress. Mr. Brett says* that the legend, 
a wildly romantic one, is in his collection ; * hut I fail to find 
it. As to the actual word ebesod, another informant says, 
*A legend of the Demerara rapids called the "Lucadaia 
falls ^ is, that when the lucadaia^ or plant from which the 
Arawaks sprang into existence, was cut down, it was d>esoa 
or traTiaformed into the rapid. Caterpillars are ^^ebeaoa^* 
or traTisformed into butterflies.' 

As regards the suggestion that the name may refer to 
* changed blood' — Le. blood mixed with that of Caribs — 
Mr. Brett tells me that arantucmo is the word most fre- 
quently used for people of such mixed race. 

18. BaAowna, from a tree producing a juice like milk, 
and used medicinally as a dressing for ulcers. 

19. Eeyicdno. This form is said to be common to male 
and female alike and to be plural ! The meaning seems to 
be * the newly coTne family J The root of the word is said 
to be found in eeyato = * raw ' or * fresh.' Mr. McClintock 
notes that the family is extinct, in the Pomeroon district at 
least, the last survivor having died in 1876. 

20. EbeaoUfrio (mas. tie^ fem. to). This is another ab- 
normal termination in tw instead of Tia. There is a con- 
flict of evidence as to the meaning. One makes it the 
^ faithful^ truthful^ or heedful family i while others concur 
in interpreting it as ^the changedy or ^the family with 
changed skin ' — i.e. a family of mixed blood and abnormal 

21. Warerokcma, ^from a wild! plantain.^ This wild 
plaintain appears to be not the same as the Ravertala men- 
tioned above (see No. 5), but a species of ffeliconia. 

22. Paria/aa, 'from a kind ofhee^ It is perhaps worth 
noting that on the borders of Q-uiana, but within the Brazil, 
there is a trihe^ members of which I have myself seen, of 

> Legends and Myths of Guiana, by William Heniy Brett, B.D. 
London, 1879. 


this name. It is curious that the same name should be 
claimed by a distant tribe and by a family of the Arawak 

23. YabihiOy or perhaps SoMeno. The termination is 
noticeable as being in no instead of na. The meaning is 

* the family sprung froTn the mochimg-bird ' {Cassicua 
peraicua). Here again the bird chosen as name-father is 
one of the most prominent in the district. 

24. Kabolifdna, In this case also two very distinct 
meanings are given — ^frono the mild thorn tree,^ by Mr. 
Brett, and ^from a kmd of white wi/nged aoit^ by Mr. 

25. Karobdhcma — the family related to the Goriaki 
parrot It has already been noted that this tribe inter- 
marries with the Demarena (No. 8). ' 

26. Maratdkaycma^ sprung * from a {amall) 6e«.' 

27. MiekaHcma. 1 have heard no suggestion as to the 
meaning of this name. 

28. Barakcma (or Barakata/nxi ?) (mas. tie^ fem. to), 

* from, cm arm^idiUo ' (sp. ?). Barakata is the Arawak name 
for one species of armadillo, but which is unknown. 

29. Tahatahdbeta/no (or Tatabetano ?). The family 
sprung 'from, a hawk ' (?). 

30. TurubaXkuiy 'from the turn pahn^ (^JEmwcarpua 
baccaba), ' the seed of which, being dark, represents persons 
of dark complexion.' This name is also given as Turv^ 

31. AraTYiokiTia. Another form of the name is given as 
Aramokiyu (pi.) > Aram^okite (mas. sing.) ; Arumokitu (fem. 
sing.). * FroTa the arara tree^ (sp. ?) An old man of this 
family told Mr. Brett that this is the meaning of his name ; 
and that once upon a time several persons of different 
families met to settle various matters, and among others to 
give names to their respective families. Each took the 
name of some object near; and the representative of this 
family took the arara tree, the leaves of which were then 
on the ground on which he sat. 


32. KamumeTia* No suggestion has been made as to 
the meaning of this name. 

33. Dahati-betana, sprung ^from the pepper plcmt.^ 
The red-pepper, or capsicum, is grown and used in very great 
quantities by the Indians. 

34. KahoribetaTiaj said to mean sprung ^frorn the 
kahori treeJ* What tree this may be I do not know. On 
the other hand, another informant asserts that the name 
means ^from the wUd yara^ the firait of which is much used 
by the Indians as bait for fish. The weight of evidence is in 
favour of the latter interpretation. A third interpretation 
is that the name means ^ from, the haboreeshe^ a kind of 
fish imknown to me ; the weight of evidence is against this. 

35. Hibibitanay ^froTn the bush rope called mibi ' (Car- 
ludovica\ which is much used by Indians to make their 
quakes and other rough baskets, and also in binding together 
the various parts of which their houses are formed. 

36. BaJcuriekana^ said to be ^frorti a/nother^ smaller kind 
of bnah rope ; ' or, according to another informant, the word 
is connected with the word bakarie — a mother-in-law. The 
former is the more probable explanation. 

37. Yobakaquana means ^the deformed family , and 
seems to refer to some such deformity as a lame foot. 

38. Atiyokana (or, perhaps, Antiyokana) — a family 
sprung ^from the wild cherry tree.'' This tree is not un- 
common in the forest ; its fruit, which in shape and colour 
resembles ' a cherry, is much relished by Indians. Mr. 
McClintock thinks that the name refers to a pecub'ar red- 
ness of skin in this family. 

39. Arose (perhaps Haraachino from harasche — without 
hair). No other interpretation has reached me. The form 
of the word is altogether abnormal. 

40. Seanay said to mean sprung ^from a bee^ — i.e. 
another of the numerous species (cf. No. 26). 

41. Seima* This family is said to be of no antiquity, 
and its name to refer in some way to an admixture of 
Spanish blood. Many Arawaks were driven to Guiana from 


the region of the Orinoco by the cruelty of the Spaniards. 
Possibly the name refers to these so-called Spanish Arawaks. 

42. Seweifiana, A family sprung ^froTti the razor- 
grinder^ an insect remarkable for the extraordinarily loud 
noise with which it makes the forest resound. 

43. Yat6yo. The form of the word is quite abnormal. 
Mr. McClintock says that it means * the offspring of a can- 

44. Waruwakanaf ^from the waruwaka^ or wild liquo- 
rice i/reeJ The tree is Cassia graTidis. It grows to a large 
size, and is one of the most beautiful in the colony ; when 
in flower every branch is covered with a small, delicate pink 
flower. It is common on the Essequibo coast. 

45. Korikur^na, This name is said to be referable to 
the word korikuri^ or, more probably, karukuri = gold. 

46. Tetebetana^ a family sprung ^ from a kind of night^ 
jar^^ or goatsucker. There are several species of this bird 
in Guiana, all of which are more or less very remarkable 
for the extraordinary cries with which they make night 

47. Aruhunobnja (or Haruhunobna\ ^frorn, the velvet- 
leaf plant^ common about Indian houses. On the other 
hand, another authority says that the name refers to some 
mixture of Ackawoi blood with the true Arawak. 

Even after this list of the names had been obtained it 
was extremely diflBcult to procure information as to their 
original meaning. In default of better means of attaining 
this desirable end, I caused the list to be printed, and sent 
copies to the several persons who were living, either as 
missionaries or magistrates, among the Arawaks. Four of 
those to whom the lists were thus sent most kindly exerted 
themselves greatly in getting all possible information on the 
subject from the Indians in their respective neighbourhoods. 
They all, however, declared that many of the names are from 
forms of expression now obsolete, and that the meanings of 
the rest are now known only to a few very aged persons. For 
example, one of my correspondents wrote to me : ' I do not 


hope to do veiy much, as their grandfathers, with whom I 
discussed the matter over Hillhouse's list thirty-five years 
ago, and their fathers, whose aid I called in when Mr. 
McClintock had made his additions to that collection, pro- 
nounced them "old-time talk" — ^that is, obsolete.' In 
further illustration of the diflSculty of procuring the desired 
information, I may mention the fact that two of my corre- 
spondents, having accidentally consulted Arawaks from the 
same settlement, these Indians differed as to the meanings 
of some of the names ; and this gave rise to strife so great, 
that the settlement was nearly broken up and abandoned. 
Yet, notwithstanding these difficulties, some fragmentary 
information was supplied to me ; and this has been incor- 
porated, by way of putting it permanently on record, in the 
list of families just given. 

The fact chiefly evident is that the names are generally 
those of animals or plants common in Guiana. 

Two traditionary explanations of the origin of the names 
are given by the Arawaks themselves, one simple and the 
other marvellous. Some say that when the Arawak families 
in Guiana were increasing in number, at a meeting of the^ 
heads of these families, each arbitrarily chose a distinctive 
family name. One chief, specially mentioned, chose the name 
of the tree called arara (see No. 31), the leaves of which 
happened to be on the ground on which he sat; another 
chose the name of another which grew behind him ; a third 
chose the name of a bird which happened to be heard at the 
moment ; and a fourth that of an insect which was at the 
moment in sight. Most Arawaks, however, emphatically 
deny this account, and assert that each family is descended — 
their fathers knew how, but they themselves have forgotten — 
from its eponymous animal, bird, or plant. It is a matter of 
much regret that I have been unable to find examples of 
these legends of descent. In the present state of know- 
ledge, all that can be observed is, the names are evidently 
almost invariably derived from natural objects, animal or 
vegetable, and that almost as invariably these eponymous 


objects are such as are in some way very prominent in Indian 

But, as we shall elsewhere have occasion to point out, 
the conamon language of these Indians changes with so 
^eat rapidity, that, within little more than one generation, 
words often change very greatly in form, or even fell com- 
pletely out of use. On the other hand, a word once given 
as a name to a family is much more fixed. One and the 
•same word^ when used as the name of a common object by 
the whole tribe, the members of which live widely scattered 
and never see each other, soon varies greatly from its original 
form, though, when used as a name by a family, the mem- 
bers of which live in comparatively close and constant com- 
munion, it long retains its original form; thus it is not 
surprising that the meaning of some of these family names 
is unknown to the Indians to the present day, and that they 
are regarded merely as meaningless names. 

Each family is, or was, kept distinct by the fact that the 
descent is solely and rigidly in the female line, and that no 
intermarriage with relations on the mother's side is per- 
mitted among ^hese Indians. The first of these regulations, 
. the descent in the female line, is doubtless founded on the 
fact that, while there can be no doubt as to the mother of a 
child, there may be considerable doubt as to the father. 
The fundamental idea of the Second regulation, which for- 
bids the intermarriage of those related on the mother's side, 
is not so apparent. According to it, a child may marry a 
husband or wife, as the case may be, of its father's family, or 
of any other family but that of its mother. If the said 
child is a man, the oflTspring of his marriage belong to his 
wife's family, and bear her name ; if it be a woman, the oflT- 
spring of her marriage belong to her femily, and conse- 
quently to her mother's. It is evident that the two regula- 
tions, taken together, ensure the purity of descent in each 
femily. ^ 

Quite in accordance with this system of retaining the 
descent in the female line is the fact, which will be noted 


in due course, that an Indian, when he marries, goes to live 
in the house of his ^father-in-law, and works for him; he 
becomes^ in &ct, a part of his wife's family. 

Side by side with this Arawak system of marriage, there 
are in Guiana a few traces of a totally opposed system, that 
according to which the bride was captured firom a hostile 
tribe. The feet that the island Caribs had two mcRre or less 
distinct vocabularies — one of which was used by the men, and 
by the women when speaking to the men, the other being used 
only by the women between themselves, or by the men when 
repeating oratio ohliqua some saying of the women — has long 
been known, and has been plausibly explained by the fact 
that the women were captured from foreign tribes and re- 
tained their own language for use amongst themselves. The 
same fact, liable to the same explanation, may still be 
noticed in some slight degree in Guiana. And the fact that 
at least the Caribs did lay waste the homes of other tribes in 
Guiana, and carried oflF the women as wives, is told in many 
a legend. But such a system of * bride-lifting ' is obviously 
opposed to that of marriage by femilies. The question 
therefore arises, how the two occur side by side in Guiana- 
Two explanations are, I think, possible. One, that it was 
not a normal habit of any of the tribes of Guiana to steal 
their wives, but that such bodies of Indian men as went 
marauding into an enemy's country and there settled, having 
brought none or few of their own women with them, natu- 
rally used their female qaptives as wives. On excursions of 
warlike purpose, and only on these, Indians go without 
their women. When, therefore, for example, a body of 
Carib men crossed from the islands to the mainland, carrying 
destruction before them, and then found it convenient to 
settle in the country they had laid waste, they would natu-^ 
rally take their captives as wives. The second possible 
thing is, that the tribes of one branch used the system of 
marriage by family, the tribes of another branch used the 
system of marriage by capture. 'If this were so, as we know 
that the Arawaks used generally, if nob exclusively, the 


former system, the Caribs sometimes, if not always, the 
latter, it might be natural to suppose that the tribes earlier 
in Guiana married by family, and that the later-coming 
Garib immigrants captured their wives. This suggestion 
cannot, however, be accepted, as some of the Carib tribes^ 
notably the Macusis, show traces of the system of marriage 
by fiunily. On the whole, though proof cannot at present be 
afforded of either of these two theories, the former seems the 
more probable. 





Physical Characters and Appearance — Artificial Modifications of the Body 
— Ordinary Dress — Body-painting — Ornaments — Regard for Personal 
Appearance — Partial Adoption of Eoropeaa Dress. 

In trying to realise the appearance of Indians, the first 
essential is always to remember that they are decently naked, 
and that there is no chance, as with ns, of the clothes making 
the man. The Indian, man or woman, whatever the tribe, 
is ilot a fine animal in appearance. All are of small stature, 
though there is considerable diflference in this respect in the 
various tribes, the Arecunas being the tallest, the Arawaks 
the shortest.' The trunk and limbs are generally well 
formed, though, except in rare cases of individuals during 
the prime of life, a protuberant stomach, due apparently 
to the habit of drinking paiwari in excessive quantities, 
makes the whole body ugly. But the most striking feature 
of the physique is the sleekness and fulness of the flesh, and 
the apparent absence of any considerable development of 
muscle. This appearance is partly due to a real deficiency 
in the development of muscle by constant and regular exer- 
cise, but partly also to the fact that the form and play of 
such muscle as is there is hidden by the thickness of the skin, 
and by the large quantities of fat deposited by the cassava 
which forms so great a part of the diet of these people. The 
matter was well illustrated to me when for some time among 

> It is rather curious, though I do not attach much importance to the 
fact, that the Arecunas lead the hardest lives and have been least affected 
by European influence, whil^ the Arawaks have been longest and most 
exposed to the enervating effects of that influence. 




my canoe-crew of pure-blooded Indians was a young cobungru^ 
half-Indian, half-negro, who, though certainly not unusually 
muscular, as he moved and worked among the Indians,. 
always looked like an athlete among sybarites. . It is very 
difficult to describe the colour of the skin. It is usually said 
to be * copper-coloured,'- and the Indians themselves are 
sometimes called * red-skins.' Both these expressions refer 
to a real appearance of the skin, for the colour is, as nearly 
as I can express it in words, very red cinnamon. The shade 
differs considerably in the different tribes. Perhaps it differs 
according to the localities inhabited by the different tribes ; 
for the forest Indians, except the Warraus and some few in- 
dividuals of other tribes whose colour is obscured by dirt> 
are feirer than those on the open savannahs. Moreover, as 
I have said in a previous chapter, I have seen the skin of an 
Indian, who, after wearing clothes for about two years, then 
rejected them, pass gradually, but within six months, from a 
shade very remarkable among Indians for its fairness to a 
shade quite undistinguishable from that exhibited by his 
fellows. The hair on the scalp is thick, long, very straight, 
and very black, and is generally cut to an even edge, at right 
angles to the neck, round the head. The features of the fac6 
are strikingly like those familiarly known as Chinese (Mqu- 
golian). The expression is decidedly gentle; and a habit 
which almost all Indians have of keeping their eyes turned 
rather to the ground than upward, gives somewhat the 
appearance of timidity. The expression, probably because 
Indians have for many generations trained themselves to 
repress all show of emotion, is very changeless and mono- 
tonous. As a rule the faces of neither men nor women 
appear to the European handsome or beautiful ; but in rare 
cases one sees both men and women with features so regular 
and well-formed that they would anywhere be considered 
pleasing and taking. 

Physically and constitutionally, the Indians, in spite of 
the severe labour which they occasionally undergo, are but 
weak, as might, indeed, be guessed from their appearance* 


They can work, provided the exertion is not very great, for 
very long periods. For instance, they can paddle — ^an exer- 
<iis€f which, as practised by them, when once the knack is 
acquired requires very far less exertion than rowing — ^for 
several consecutive days and nights, with wonderfully short 
intervals of rest. But any severe work very soon tires them ; 
though they think nothing of walking over the savannah 
day after day, from morning to night, yet they cannot walk 
any given distance even in twice the time required for the 
purpose by the ordinary European or negro. The well- 
known fact, about which I shall presently have to say more, 
that after a hunting excursion Indians lie idly in their ham- 
mocks for days, arises from their real need of apparently 
excessive rest after any unusually violent exertion. More- 
over, their vital powers seem but weak ; many a slight chill, 
or blow, or wound, that would be insignificant to a negro 
or ordinarily healthy European, is &tal to some Indians. 
They very rarely attain any considerable age, probably never 
old age. Of course, as they have no idea of estimating 
their own ages, it is impossible for a traveller to determine 
with absolute certainty the average duration of their lives ; 
but it is probably hardly ever more than from forty to fifty 
years. They never become bald. Light yellow hair, which 
is to an Indian as white hair is to a European, is of very 
^ extreme rarity. I have seen it in but two instances ; and 
the brothers Schomburgk, during a much longer experience 
than mine, saw it hardly ofbener.^ But such beauty as the 
Indian ever has, is very early lost. It has been said that the 
protruding stomach is the ugliest feature. There is a very 
short period, probably about the twentieth year, when the 
vital powers are strongest, and the amount of exercise taken • 
is greatest, during which this feature becomes, at least in 
many cases, almost unnoticeable ; but it soon reasserts 
itself, and between the thirtieth and the fortieth year in the 
case of men, and even earlier in the case of women, the rest 

* Schomburgk, ReUen in BritUch Gmana, vol. ii.'p. 64. 


of the body shrinks, the fat disappears, and the skin hangs 
in hideous folds from the bones. 

A pleasing point about Indians is that, with some excep- 
tions, they are extremely clean in their personal habits. 

Early in the morning, and many times during the day, 
men and women troop down together to the nearest water, 
be it river, stream, or pool, and there, in company, splash 
about in the water. They evidently feel real pleasure in 
being in the water. Men and women alike swim splendidly, 
"but with a peculiar action. The legs are hardly spread ; but 
the thighs are bent downward at right angles to the trunk, the 
lower part of the legs being of course parallel to the trunk, 
and then the legs are again suddenly straightened, thus 
driving forward the body of the swimmer. It is, by the way, 
rather curious that Indians make a point of bathing imme- 
diately after every meal, apparently without ill eflfects. 

Owing to these constant washings, their skins are very 
fine and smooth. The exceptional cases in which these 
habits of cleanliness are not observed are to be found in the 
whole tribe of the Warraus, and in some few families, appa- 
rently especially on the Potaxo river, of the Ackawoi, who 
go to the opposite extreme and never wash. The skin and 
the appearance of these is therefore anything but pleasant. 

So far, only the natural physical condition of the Indians 
has been described ; but, as among so many other people in 
a state of savagery or barbarism, many of them artificially 
distort ihjeir bodies. In one of the most, remote parts of the 
colony^ or perhaps beyond its limits, near the sources of the 
Essequibo, lives a little-known tribe, the members of which 
are in the habit of tying boards on to the heads of their 
young children in such a way that the skulls assume, and 
permanently retain, an extraordinarily flat shape. And even 
among the more important tribes of G-uiana, with which we 
are more especially concerned, this habit is said, both by 
early travellers and by Indians themselves, to have prevailed 
among all the. Caribs. However that may be, it is no longer 
practised. But a somewhat similar habit is yet in full use. 


Among the Trae Caribs a two-inch-hroad belt of cottoD is 
knitted round each ankle and just below ea«h knee, of very 
young female children; and this band is never throughout 
life removed, or if removed is immediately replaced. The 
consequence is that the muscles of the calf swell out to a 
■ very abnormal degree between these bands, while those parts 

of the leg which are actually constricted remain hardly thicker 
than the actual bone (Fig. 1 ). The whole leg below the knee 
looks like the pedestal of a chessman of the conventional form. 
The arms are occasionally, though much more rarely, treated 
in the same way. Of the other Carib tribes, the Macusi and 
Arecunawoihen have one such constriction above eachankle, 
but not the second below the knee. Apparently none of 




FlO. S. 

the other tribes, not even the Ackawoi, though these are 
also Caribs, distort their legs in this fashion; but all In- 
dians, men and women alike, generally, if not always, 
wear a piece of string or a band of cotton or beads round 
their ankles and round their arms, just below the shoulder, 
and this may possibly be a recently adopted substitute for 
permanent distortion of the limbs. Another way in which 
all Indians intetfere with their bodies is by pulling out by 
the roots the very few hairs which grow anywhere but on 
their scalps. Even the eyebrows are not unfrequently 
sacrificed in this way. Moreover, the True Carib and Ackawoi 
women, and more rarely those of other tribes, pierce one or 
more holes in their lower lips, through each 
of which they pass, point outward, a pin or 
sharpened piece of wood. What the object 
of this may be I do not know, as kissing is 
unknown among Indians; but the effect is, 
that the lips are protected by a dangerous- 
looking row of spikes.' Similarly the men 
pierce one hole just under the middle of 
their lower lips, through which they pass 
the loop of string, fastening it inside the 
mouth, to which is attached a bell-shaped 
ornament, which hangs down over the chin ; 
and they pierce the cartilage of the septum 
of their noses, from which they suspend a 
half-moon shaped ornament (Fig. 2). The 
ears too of men, and sometimes of women, are pierced, and 
pieces of stick or straw are passed through the holes. 

In turning now to the body-coverings put on by Indians, 
we will consider first such very simple clothing as they ordi- 
narily wear, and then that of many and various kinds which 
they put on occasionally for ornament. 

Indians, after babyhood, are never seen perfectly naked ^ 

* The Zuramutas, a sub-groap in the interior, in some waj allied to the 
Macusis, are said by Sir Robert Schombuigk to live in a state of actual 

liAcuBT, wm 




When they want to change their single garment, they either 
retire from the sight of others to do this, or, if this is 
inconvenient or impossible, they put on the fresh garment 
over the old, and then withdraw the lower one. Every man 
wears a long narrow strip of cloth, called a lap, which is 
passed between the legs, the ends being brought up at the 
back and front of the body respectively, and then suspended 
over a rope-like belt worn just above the hips. Every woman 
wears a tiny apron, called a queyu, suspended by tying its 
strings round her waist. (See Plate 7, opp. p. 189.) It is 
worth noting that very young children before they wear even 
so much clothing as this, usually have a string round the 
waist. That is absolutely all the clothing worn on ordinary 
occasions. It is a most curious but certain fact that these 
people, even as they wander in the streets of Georgetown, do 
not appear naked. 

The lap of the man is, with very rare exceptions, now 
formed of blue salemporas cloth, procured directly or in- 

pj^ g directly from Europeans. The 

exceptions occur among the 
Warraus, who still sometimes 
wear laps made of the inner 
bark of a tree (Lecytiiia oU 
2ari(i ?), which has been beaten 
' '^ until it is comparatively soft 

METHOD Oy MAKmO QCEYU. ^^ ^f ^J^^ ^^^^ ^f ^J^.^j^ 

rough cloth. Most probably this tribe, and perhaps some 
others, used this bark as a rule before the arrival of Euro- 
peans ; and, as some of the other tribes, especially those of 
Carib origin, have peculiar methods, as will presently be 
told, of preparing for themselves a rude sort of cotton-cloth, 
it is also probable that some laps used to be made of cotton. 
The queyu (Fig. 3) of the woman is now almost invariably 
made of European beads fastened together into a cloth-like 
fabric. But the Warrau women still generally make their 
queyus of bark; and some few Arecuna women make them of 
loose strings of cotton arranged in a deep fringe ; and the rude 
Pianoghotto women make them as those of beads are made. 

DRESS. 195 

but of small bright-coloured seeds. All these are probably 
survivals of old indigenous customs. 

It should perhaps be noted that, according to their 
different tribes, the women generally make their bead queyus 
of particular colours and patterns — for instance, those of the 
Ackawoi women are generally dark blue, with one row of red 
and another of white beads at the bottom ; while among the 
Macusis they have generally a white ground, on which is a 
simple pattern in red or blue. 

Before passing to those parts of the dress which are 
both merely ornamental and occasional, one article claims 
mention in that, though it is only very occasionally worn, 
yet it is for use and not ornament. This is the pair of 
sandals, cut from the leaf-stalk of the seta palm (Mauritia 
Jlexuoaa)^ which is worn on very stony parts of the savannah 
to protect the feet. The string which keeps the sandal on 
the foot passes between the great toe and the next; and 
where these foot-coverings are much worn the flesh between 
these toes soon becomes callous and as hard as horn. A very 
few hours' use wears out the sandals, but this does not much 
matter, for a new pair can be cut from the nearest aeta palm, 
and can be ready for use in a few minutes. Bough as these 
sandals are, they are made to the measure of the foot ; on 
several occasions when I was reduced to wearing them myself, 
the Indians measured me for each pair as carefully as though 
they had been European shoemakers. 

Turning now to mere ornaments, we shall find that 
among Indians, as throughout almost the whole animal world 
exclusive of civilised man, these are far more abundantly used 
by the males than by the females. 

As to the* occasion of the wearing of ornaments, there 
are Indians who are never without more or less of these of 
some kind, and there are others who never use them except 
on special occasions, such as feasts and visits of ceremony. 

Fainting the body is the simplest mode of adornment. 
Tattooing or any other permanent interference with the sur- 
face of the skin by way of ornament is practised only to a very 

o 2 


limited extent by the Indians ; is nsed, in fiact, only to pro- 
duce the small distinctive tribal mark which many of them 
bear at the comers of their mouths or on their arms. It 
is true that an adult Indian is hardly to be found on whose 
thighs and arms, or on other parts of whose body, are not 
a greater or less number of indelibly incised straight lines ; 
but these are scars originally made for surgical, not orna- 
mental purposes. Painting is, however, much practised. 
Several pigments are used for this purpose, but chiefly red 
faroah and blue-black lana among the savannah Indians, and 
carmine caraweera and lana among those of the forest; white 
elay and a yellow substance of uncertain nature are also 
used more rarely, but by all tribes. As a vehicle for these, 
various oils, scented with natural resins, are used. The paint 
is applied either in large masses or in patterns. For example, 
a man, when he wants to dress well, perhaps entirely coats both 
his feet up to the ankles with a crust of red ; his whole trunk 
he sometimes stains uniformly with blue-black, more rarely 
with red, or he covers it with an intricate pattern of lines of 
either colour; he puts a streak of red along the bridge of his 
nose ; where his eyebrows were till he pulled them out he puts 
two red lines ; at the top of the arch of his forehead he puts 
a big lump of red paint, and probably he scatters other spots 
and lines somewhere on his face. The women, especially 
among the Ackawoi, who use more body-paint than other 
ornament, are more fond of blue-black than of red ; and one 
very favourite ornament with them is a broad band of this, 
which edges the mouth, and passes from the comers of that 
to the ears. Some women especially affect certain curious 
little figures, like Chinese characters, which look as if some 
meaning were attached to them, but which the Indians are 
either unable or unwilling to explain. 

There are two ornaments which are worn by men of all 
tribes more frequently than any others. These are a neck- 
lace of bush-hogs' teeth and the pair of armlets of which 
mention was made a page or two back. Of the first of these 
one is possessed by every adult Indian, and is almost 


constantly worn everywhere but in the house. The even 
row of teeth, whiter than ivory and filed to uniformity, as it 
hangs against the chest of the Indian, contrasting with his 
dark red skin, is really a beautiful ornament; but the special 
value which the Indian attributes to it is not because of its 
beauty, but because, as each man is supposed to wear only 
the teeth of such bush-hogs as he has himself killed, the 
more numerous, the finer, and the larger the teeth are, the 
more successful do they show their Indian owner to have 
been in hunting. It is, indeed, only in the last extremity 
that the Indian will part with this necklace. The armlets, 
worn just below the shoulder, on the other hand, are of 
small value and are frequently replaced ; the fact that they 
are very generally worn perhaps indicates, as I have already 
suggested, that they represent a permanent constriction of 
the flesh which used formerly to be made round the arm. 
Sometimes they are in the form of broad cotton bands, but 
more often each is simply a loop of string which encircles 
the arm, and is furnished at the knot, in fi-ont of the arm, 
with a flat disc of bone, shell, or metal, from which the long 
loose ends of the string hang down. 

The other ornaments seem to have no special signifi- 
cance, and are used in more or less profusion according to 
the individual taste of each Indian, but chiefly on the 
occasion of feasts. 

The men wind long single strings of seeds, or now more 
often of beads, red, white or blue, evenly rotmd and round 
their ankles and their wrists. They smooth their hair and 
make it shiny with palm oil, and, parting it in the middle of 
the forehead, in the arch made by the parting they daub a 
thick mass of red paint, and on this they stick some white 
dovm from under the feathers of the curassow bird (Crax 
alector). Among the toilet properties of an Indian is a 
small bag made of skin, full of this down, from which small 
pieces are pulled out and used as required. A long straw, 
or a stitk of letter-wood, sometimes ornamented with hum- 
ming birds' and other feathers, is passed through a hole in 



the lobe of each ear in such a way that one end rests on the 
cheeks and reaches nearly to the mouth. A crescent-shaped 
or round piece of silver or copper, flat and highly polished on 
one side (Fig. 4), is suspended from a small stick passed 
through the cartilage of the nose, so as to hang down over 
the mouth. Apparently, the crescent-shaped nose-pieces 
are proper to the Carib tribes, the round to the Wapianas. 
Sometimes they are so large that the wearer has to hold up 
this ornament with one hand, while he lifts the calabash of 
liquor to his mouth with the other. A small, bell-like orna- 
ment, made of white bone or shell, with a long streamer of 
white or red cotton in place of the clapper (Fig. 5), is hung 
by a string passed through the middle of the under lip. 
, Beautiful crowns of feathers, of two shapes, the colours 

Fia. 4 

Koss Orxausnts. 

varying with the tribe to which each Indian belongs, is 
worn on the head. (See Frontispiece.) Several strings of 
cotton hang from the back of this down to the heels, where 
they are finished off' with skins of toucans, fire-birds, cocks- 
of-the-rock and other such bright-coloured birds, or with 
tassels, made of iridescent beetles' wings, which tinkle like 
tiny bells at each movement of the wearer. Strings of jang- 
ling seeds are fastened round the ankles and the arms, and 
two others are worn over the shoulders, crossed saltire-fashion 
in front and at the back of the body. Bound his neck the 
Indian puts not only his necklace of bush-hogs' teeth, but 
also necklaces of the teeth of other animals and of seeds. 
Eound the waist is sometimes put a skirt of young yellowish- 
green palm leaves, neatly plaited. 

Buff's made of the long tail-feathers of macaws are fas- 

Two FpHthPT Ueaddteases . 
A. Ua.cuai. fi. Ilaruma. 


teoed OD to the Bboulders so as to stand out almost at right 
angles to the body. (See Frontispiece.) Other 
very short mantles of woven cotton, from which 
hang long cotton cords, ornamented at frequent 
intervals with tufts of white down, are occa- 
sionally worn (Kg. 6, p. 200) ; but the art of 
making these is said to have been lost. Collars 
made of white heron feathers, or the black 
feathers of the curassow bird, are sometimes 
worn, especially by those engaged in races. 

The toilet of the women is more simple. 
They wear no feathers, and very seldom any 
teeth, except those of the acourie, but they 
load themselves with astomiding quantities of 
seeds and beads in great ropes round the 
neck, and as girdles round the waist, and in 
bands round the ankles, the wrists, and upper 
arms ; and they wear a simple cotton fillet at 

As to the children, the ornaments which are 
put on them are veiy much like those of their 
elders, except that special kiuds of seeds are 
principally used for their necklaces, or, if these 
are madeof teeth, they are generally of jaguar's 

The Indians differ individually in the de- 
gree of care which each takes of his or her 
personal appearance as much as do members 
of civilised conmiunities. One whole tribe, the 
Warraus, are, or were, distinguished by utter 
disregard of all cleanliness and neatness, but 
in the other tribes more or less attention is 
always paid to such matters. It is rather 
curious that dandies, male and female, occur 
among them about as freqaently, comparatively, 
as in more civilised communities, and in as 
pronounced degrees. A young Indian in the haOKHJun. 



prime of his life, conscious of a fine fig^are and good looks, 
often takes infinite pains with his person, and manages to 
put on his oils, paints, feathers, and teeth so delicately and 
becomingly that, despite his nakedness, he gives himself 
exactly that neat and well-dressed appearance which one is 
accustomed to associate with a young, well-bred civilised 
gentleman, very careful in the matter of clothing. And just 
as there are young Indian men of this temper and habit, so 
there are young women. 



rTTM iiii Ji fff i p i * r iM T i | ■< ^■| |i f|im i i. i iijiiif i jj M fa 

•^^•* > ' « #£^j. m . 



Conas Uantlb. 

As one of the earliest ways in which the Indian mimics 
the European is in the adoption of clothes, even though he 
generally only uses these while he is among white men, re- 
jecting them with a sigh of relief as soon as he is alone with 
his fellows, it may not be out of place to say a word here 
as to how far this matter has yet gone. The new habit 
seems to be adopted in three stages : first, beads are used by 
men and women alike ;- then the men obtain and put on by 
way of show some single European garment, generally an 


ordinary flannel jersey or a hat, and the women wear a gar- 
ment made like a flannel petticoat, worn round the neck, the 
band over one shoulder, under the other; and lastly, the 
men wear shirt and trousers, the women an ordinary dress, in 
each case without other clothing. Beads have already pene- 
trated almost throughout the colony, enormous quantities 
finding their way, in barter, year by year into the interior. 
As is evident from what has been said, they are used chiefly 
to replace the seeds or teeth, which were formerly all that 
the Indian had of this sort to make into body omanients. 
The second stage, marked by the occasional possession and 
use of a single European garment, has not yet spread beyond 
the Ackawoi and True Caribs of that part of the forest region 
which is near the coast, and even there prevails only in liire 
cases. The third stage has fairly established itself among 
the Arawaks, and other Indians living round mission 
stations of the coast region. 




Distribution of the Settlements — The Three Chief Types of Houses — Warrau 
Pile-dwellings — Open Houses in the Forest — Walled Houses on the 
Savannah — Communal House in rare instances— Pile-houses occasionally 
built on the dry Savannah — Benabs, or temporary Huts— Probable 
History of Development of House-building among Indians — Various 

The homes of the Indians are widely scattered both in the 
forests and on the savannahs, but there is some diflference in 
their mode of distribution in these two diflferent regions. 
In the forest each family generally lives in a separate settle- 
ment of one or more houses, often far firoin the nearest 
neighbours. How far apart these settlements are may be 
gathered from the fact that in the two hundred and fifty 
miles of the course of the Essequibo from the first fells — at 
Aretaka — upward, there are not half a dozen of them. On 
the savannahs also, separate widely scattered family settle- 
ments occur, but more often several families have united and 
formed villages, which sometimes consist of as many as from 
twenty to thirty houses, each containing a separate family. 

The houses are everywhere almost equally simple in struc- 
ture, for the materials are everywhere much the same and admit 
of but little difference in combination ; and such differences as 
exist have evidently arisen in consequence of natural efforts 
to meet the special requirements of each kind of situation. 
Three chief types of houses are distinguishable. In the low 
and swampy coa«jtlands occupied by the Warraus, there were 
not long ago many houses built on piles over water ; and 
though many of the Warraus, taking advantage of the quiet 
times and security from enemies in which they now live, have 


migrated to places rather more inland and on higher, dry 
ground, some of them stiU build pile-dwellings in the 
swamps. In the forest region the Arawaks, Ackawoi, and 
True Caribs, sheltered from cold winds by the surrounding 
trees, build wall-less houses. And on the open savannah in 
the interior, the Macusis, Arecunas, and Wapianas build 
houses with thick clay walls as a protection against the cold 
winds which, especially at night, blow from the mountains 
across these plains. But between these three types of 
houses— those on piles, those in the forest, and those on the 
savannah — there are, as we shall see, many gradations. 

My travels never having led me into the swamps occu- 
pied by the Warraus, I cannot write of their pile-dwellings 
from experience. Eichard Schomburgk's description of one 
such place is as follows: *The whole settlement was sur- 
rounded by water, and the miserable huts, seven or eight 
feet long, stood on a platform, formed of interlaced stems of 
the manicole palm {Euterpe oleracea)^ and supported on piles 
or tree-trunks of five or six feet in height. In the centre of 
each hut. a heap of earth did duty as a hearth, and prevented 
the fire, which was kept continually burning, from finding 
its way through the wooden floor. The low roof was thatched 
with palm-leaves, "fend a notched tree-trunk, leaning agidnst 
the hut, served as a ladder, to which, when the water is 
high, the canoe is tied. Even in the dry season the ground 
is so swampy that a narrow raised path leads from the 
settlement to the nearest somewhat higher ground.' * 

The forest Indian's house, or group of houses, stands in 
a clearing abruptly walled in by tall forest trees. Irregu- 
larly planted cassava, sugar-cane, pine-apples, and other 
plants which the Indian cultivates, grow intermingled with 
wild seedlings and shoots from the stumps of the trees 
which once stood there ; and the whole is matted together 
by thickly growing yam-vines, and by razor-grass, passion- 
flower, and other wild creeping plants. Charred trunks of 
felled trees lie in all directions amongst this dense mass of 
> Sobomborgk's Beisen in Britiich Guiana (Leipzig, 1847), vol. i. p. 19&. 


vegetation. A very narrow and much-trodden path leads 
from the house, through the clearing, into the forest, and 
then down to the nearest water. 

Very rarely the house is round ; it is far more usually 
square, or at least rectaogukuTi .The four posts and the cross- 
beams support a sloping thatch of palm-leaves*. The two 
gable-ends are usually entirely open ; but on the two sides the 
eaves of the thatch almost touch the ground. The floor is 
the natural earth, often a loose white sand. The most con- 
spicuous objects inside each house are a huge canoe-shaped 
wooden trough, to hold paiwarie, some clay pots for cooking, 
a few bottles made of clay, s(»ne hollow gourds, baskets, 
implements for making cassava bread, and some low wooden 
benches — like footstools — roughly carved into the likeness 
of animals; Besting from cross-beam to cross-beam are 
bundles of arrows, a bow or two, perhaps a blow-pipe. From 
some of the uprights hang a few necklaces of teeth and 
other body ornaments. There are two or fhree fires on the 
ground, one under each hammock, and 9.^^ extra one for 
cooking. From the beams hang many red-dyed cotton 
hammocks slung side by side, and one over the other. In 
one Ackawoi house of but twenty feet by thirty, I counted as 
many as eighteen hammocks ; and as a few of these were 
occupied by more than one person — by a husband and wife, 
and even by a child or two — ^the number of people belonging 
to the house could not have been less than twenty-two or 
twenty-three. Nor is this an unusually large number of 
inhabitants for an Indian house. 

Of all the forest houses, those of the Arawaks are far the 
cleanest and most cared for. A partition, made of palm 
leaves or bark, often makes part of the house private. 
Sometimes, indeed, these Arawak houses, standing in 
clearings floored with glittering white sand and bordered 
with coffee and cashew trees, among which beautiful crim- 
son lilies (Hippeastnim equestre) grow thickly, are as 
pleasant places as any- in which one need wish to stay. But 
in these, as . in some other respects, the Arawaks have 


adopted a considerable amount of civilisation firom their 
white neighbours. 

Sometimes, where the forest houses stand in very exten- 
sive clearings, where therefore there is some need of shelter, 
a wall of plaited palm-leaves or of bark is added to the house 
on the side most exposed to the wind, or even all round. 

The savannah houses are almost invariably round or 
oval. There are no signs of cultivation rotmd th e m , with 
the exception, perhaps, of a few stunted and untended white- 
podded cotton plants or faroah shrubs loaded with their 
beautiful crimson fruit; for the fields belonging to these 
houses are far away, in the centre of one of the thickets 
which line the gullies or edge the streams of the savannah 
country. The hou«e is -provided with very substantial walls 
of wattle-work thickly plastered with mud, often two feet in 
thickness ; and above these' rises the high conical thatch of 
palm-leaves. A few feet ofif the main house is a rude dome- 
shaped building, entirely smothered in palm-leaves, and 
looking like a gigantic English haycock, which serves as a 
kitchen, and in which the women often sleep. Generally 
there is a third building, a mere shed, which is intended for 
the use of such strangers as visit the settlement. 

Near each house is a shallow pit, evidently artificial. This 
is where the clay for the walls of the house was prepared. 
The wattle-work of the walls being ready, this pit was dug; 
and in it was put clay and water. The women and children 
went into it, and all stamped and danced vigorously until the 
clay was kneaded to a prdper consistency. 

The history of the adoption of these walls is clearly seen 
in the fact that sometimes, especially when a new house is 
first built, it is walled only with plaited palm-leaves, as has 
been said is sometimes done in large clearings in the forest, 
and on the further fact th^t these palm-leaves are sometimes 
roughly daubed with mud as a temporary expedient before 
they are pulled down a^d the substantial permanent walls 
are built. 

For a few minutes after entering the main house, it is 


impossible to distinguish anything. There are no windows ; 
and the very narrow doorway, which is the only apparent 
opening in the walls, is blocked with loose posts, or some- 
times with a rude door of leaves or skin. Sometimes there 
is another, smaller, concealed door at the other end of the 
house, by which it is said the women and children escape 
when the house is entered by anyone with hostile inten- 
tions ; but such hostile visits being extremely rare, this door 
always remains closed. Gradually the eye accustoms itself 
to the gloom and darkness, and the interior becomes visible. 
The floor is of mud, trodden by much traffic to the hardness 
and likeness of stone. The smoke from many fires hs^ dyed 
the roof a deep highly polished black. Like the forest 
houses, the place is crowded with hammocks. Under each of 
' these are the ashes of a fire ; for all Indians, whether at 
home or travelling, sleep with a fire so directly under their 
hammocks, that the flames seem to lick the naked skins 
of the sleepers. Here and there, about six feet from the 
ground, a few sticks, their ends resting on the cross-beams, 
are placed so as to form rude shelves, on which are dried fish, 
bows and arrows, baskets, and a confusion of other similar 
objects. Some grave-looking parrots walk gingerly about 
among piles of cassava-roots, balls of cotton, surianas of bread, 
seeds of the aeta and cokerite palms (Mauritia fiexuoaa and 
MdxmiUiana regia) which litter the floor. Some fowls 
scrape among this litter in search of food. One or two men 
lie in their hammocks ; some women are nursing babies, 
others are cooking at the fire which bums in one comer. 

Towards the Brazilian border, where the influence of the 
Rio Negro tribes has made itself felt, the houses are similar 
to those just described in most respects, but are much larger. 
One house, indeed, often shelters a whole settlement, each 
family having a special place in it. In that district, too, the 
platform of parallel sticks under the roof, which elsewhere 
serves only as a shelf for goods and stores, is occasionally 
made much larger, and serves as a sort of upper floor, tq 
which the Indians retire at night« 


A most remarkable tact is that houses on piles are not 
xmfrequently built, for no apparent reason, on the savannah ; 
and this is done not by any special tribe, but occasionally by 
Arecunas, Macusis, and by other Carib tribes. They stand 
not in swamps, but on dry ground, sometimes on top of a 
hill. Except that they are much larger, they are exactly 
like the Warrau houses already described ; and it is a note- 
worthy &ct that the platform on which the house stands is, 
as in the case of the Warrau houses, made of the stems of 
manicole palms (Euterpe oleracea\ though this moisture- 
loving palm is very locally distributed in the savannah 
region, and the Indians fetch it from long distances, 
although other, apparently equally suitable, material is at 
hand. It is probable that these savannah pile-builders 
revert to a form of house which they saw — and perhaps 
used — on the coast land, when they first reached the main- 
land from the islands. 

After all, each of these houses is but a variation of the 
same idea. Four or more poles or posts, fixed upright in 
the ground, connected by cross-sticks lashed with pieces of 
the stems of creeping plants from the top of one upright to 
that of another, and surmounted by other poles lashed on to 
the cross-pieces, so as to slope from these to a conunon 
ridge-pole, in the case of the rectangular houses, or to a com- 
mon centre in the case of the circular or oval houses, forms 
the entire framework. A thatch of leaves is then fastened 
on to the sloping roof-poles. Then the house is complete. 
Sometimes, however, it is raised from the ground on piles, 
by making the upright comer-posts of unusual height, and 
by hanging a platform half-way up these comer posts by 
way of a floor. In other cases, the house is on the ground, 
but it is enclosed with walls, made, like the roof, of leaves ; 
in yet other cases these leaf-walls are plastered with mud, or 
are replaced by sheets of bark ; and in yet other cases, the 
leaf-walls are replaced by wattle-work, and on this stronger 
framework much more substantial walls of mud are laid. 
That the houses on the savanjiah are round instead of rec- 


tangular may be due to the wish to present as few points of 
resistance as possible to the wind ; or the shape may simply 
have been copied from Indians of other Brazilian tribes. 
And the occasional habit of building one large house for 
many families^ instead of a small house for each £BLmily, is 
probably also copied from other tribes. 

As yet^ only pena^uoient dwelling-houses have been 
described. But whenever an Indian is on a hunting or fish- 
ing expedition, or is for any reason away from home, during 
the rainy season, he builds for himself at night a temporary 
shelter, called in the colony a *benaboo, or *benab.' A 
benaboo is less or more substantially built according to its 
occasion. Sometimes it is only intended to afford shelter 
from rain for an hour or two ; and then it only consists of a 
very few leaves of some palm, laid flat one upon the other, 
and the stalks, which are bound together, stuck into the 
ground at such an angle that the natural curve of the lesif 
affords some shelter.* Sometimes a benaboo is built to 
afford shelter to several men for a whole night when heavy 
rain threatens, and then it is made by sticking three poles 
upright in the ground in the angles of a triangle, by joining 
the tops of these by three cross-sticks, and by then la3ring 
over the whole a bunch of palm-leaves, like, but bigger than, 
that used in the earlier described benaboo. Sometimes, 
again, a benaboo is built for occasional brief use at some 
place of repeated resort — either a good fishing ground, or 
where turtle abound, or where some desirable plant grows, or 
for some similar reason ; and in that case it is made as is 
that last described, except that the upright poles are four, 
arranged at the angles of a square, and that these support 
not only cross-pieces, but above that a ridge-pole, and that 
two bundles of leaves are arranged, one on each side of the 
ridge-pole, to which they both slope up. Thus it is easy to 

* When travellers describe the miserable houses of some of the forest 
tribes of Brazil (see E. B. Tylor^s Atithropology, p. 230), I am inclined to 
think that possibly not the real, but only temporary sheltersi such as these 
* benabs/ have sometimes been seen. 


trace the whole history of the development of house build- 
ing among these Indians, from the first rough shelter made 
by sticking a few leaves into the ground, to the most com- 
plete mud-walled house on the savannah. It may not be 
unsuggestive to add that this most complete Indian house is 
in all essential points similar to the simplelr houses built in 
other parts of the world — such, for instance, as is the High- 
land hut. 

Lastly, as regards the materials of which Indian houses 
are built, the only point which needs further explanation is 
the thatch. Different kinds of leaves are used for thatch, 
not necessarily by different tribes, but each as it is most 
easily attainable in any district. Various kinds of palm are 
the chief thatch plants. Each gigantic undivided leaf of 
the troolie palm (Manicaria sacdfera) is really a shelter in 
itself; and a few of these laid, without further preparation, 
so as to overlap like tiles, make a most perfect roof. In- 
deed, before corrugated zinc was introduced for the purpose, 
a large trade was carried on between the Indians and the 
planters on the coast in these troolie-leaves,with which most 
of the buildings on the sugar estates were thatched. Where 
troolie does not grow, there is often an abundance of a dwarf 
palm (Qeonoma haculAfeva\ with small, almost transparent 
leaves, called by the Indians dealibanni. The leaves of 
this afford a thatch which is, in one respect^ still more con- 
venient than troolie. They are gathered and fastened by 
their stalks, so as to hang close together, and with their 
sides overlapping, from a long lath cut from the stem of the 
booba-palm (Iriartia exorrhiza). Such rows of leaves, ten 
or twelve feet long, and two or three feet deep, are arranged 
one above and overlapping the other. The great advan- 
tage of this plan consists in the fact that the entire rows of 
leaves can be taken down in a few moments from the roof 
or walls of a house, can be removed, and can be tied on to a 
new framework almost as speedily. One Indian I knew, 
who had a small house thatched in this way in his field, 
which was far from any settlement, in which he used to live 



for a day or two at a time when cultivating the ground, 
used to cany the thatch with him each time he went to or 
came from his field, in order that the house might not 
afford shelter to any other Indians during the absence of 
the owner. Moreover, this kind of thatch is so convenient 
that it has been adopted by many of the negroes, and other 
Creole settlers on the coast, who buy the laths ready set 
with leaves from the Indians ; and the trade in these articles 
on some parts of the coast is so brisk, that the Indians have 
learned to cheat, by substituting, in the article made for 
tarade, laths cut fit>m the manicole palm {Euterpe oleracea) 
for those from the booba (Jriartia exorrhiza), the former 
being much more easily procurable though less durable. 

In other parts of the countiy, thatching is done with the 
young leaves of the cokerite or turn palms {McunmiliaTia 
regia and (Enocarpus baccaba\ which are cut before the 
leaflets have spread from the midrib, so that when the leaf-- 
lets are separated artificially, they hang limp and loose from 
the midrib. Sometimes the leaves, without further prepara- 
tion, are then tied on to the roof, the one above the other ; 
but sometimes the leaflets from the two sides of the midrib 
are first plaited together. The young fan-leaves of the seta 
palm (Mauritia fiexuosa) are also sometimes used, the leaf- 
lets being cut from the leafstalk, and used just as straw or 
rushes axe in England. But, beside palm-leaves, the huge 
oblong leaves of the * wild plaLntain ' (Ravenala guian- 
enaia) are also sometimes used for thatch; and where no 
other materials are easily procurable, the comparatively 
small broad leaves of a common aroid {Anthuriwm acaule) 
are used, strung together many on a stick. In any case the 
thatch is made much more enduring by the smoke of the 
fires which are constantly kept up in inhabited houses, so 
that on such a house, the thatch lasts for some years, while 
in a deserted house or temporary benaboo, it falls to pieces 
in a few months. 




Bnling Authorities — Observance o{ Mutual Bights — Treatment of Women — 
The Story of a Day— The Story of a Life— Birth— (7<nf»<Mfe— Child- 
hood — Personal Names — Marriage — Death — Burial. 

The system of authority which prevails in Indian societies 
is very simple* Each family, whether living apart or in a 
settlement, is ruled over by the father, whose authority 
is great. As long as he lives,, or at least while he is strong 
and active, his wives, his daughters and their husbands, and 
his sons, until they marry and thus pass from their own 
family under the rule of a new house-father, are almost 
completely under his sway. Thus, wherever one family lives 
by itself the sole authority rests with the father. But the 
father of each, while retaining his authority over his own 
family, is to some extent under the authority — ^that is, under 
the fear and influence — of the peaiman, and, where several 
families Hve in one place, he is also under the authority of 
the headman of the settlement. The authority of the peai- 
man, which will presently be explained in greater detail, 
depends on the power which the man is supposed to exercise 
over spirits of all kinds and, as all diseases are supposed to 
be the work of spirits, over diseases, and, yet further, con- 
sequently over the bodies of his fellows. The headman, on 
the other hand, is generally the most successful hunter, 
who, without having any formal authority, yet because he 
organises the fishing and hunting parties, obtains a certain 
amount of deference from the other men of his village. He 
settles all disputes within the settlement, and in the not dis- 
tant days when Indians were in the habit of waging war, the one 

p 2 


on the other, he used, according to Bichard Schomburgk, to 
determine on the commencement of hostilities. His orders to 
any of the men of his settlement to go anywhere or to do any- 
thing are implicitly obeyed. And after a successfiil hunting 
or fishing excursion, he always receives a larger share than 
the others of the booty. This system of authority — that of 
the peaiman, of the head man of the settlement, and of the 
father of each family — ^is probably the remnant of the 
system which was in use before the intervention of the white 
men. There is nothing to show whether or not there was 
originally a higher authority, that of a chief over each tribe ; 
but none such now exists. 

On this original Indian system, a new system has been 
imposed by the colonial government. In each of certain 
very vaguely defined districts, some one Indian of each tribe 
is officially recognised as ^^ captain" of all Indians of his 
own tribe living in that district. He who would be captain 
or chief of a district, if his influence was sufficient to persuade 
a number of his tribe to support his claim, travelled to 
Georgetown and appeared before the Governor. If it seemed 
the wish of the majority of the Indians concerned, he was 
nominally made captain of th6 Indians of his district ; really 
he was, comically enough, commissioned to be ^ rural con- 
stable.' From that day, wherever he went, he carried with 
him his certificate, a most potent and mysterious docu- 
ment to the Indians, and a huge staff of letter-wood, as signs 
of authority. His power is strangely real, considering that 
to enforce it he has to depend but on his own influence, on a 
sheet of paper, and a stick such as every Indian might cut 
for himself. The document is far the most dreaded of his 
insignia. His orders to any Indians of his district are 
almost unhesitatingly obeyed. It is to be regretted that 
this system, inadequate as it was, is now being allowed to 
fell into disuse, without the substitution of any better 
methods The Efystem is at least useful to the traveller, who, 
if he is able to secure the good-will of these captains, can at 
once obtain any requisite number of Indians that he may 


require, and any amount of provisions ; and it was of use in 
creating some sort of order among these people. 

A far clearer idea of Indian social life will be gained by 
first obtaining some knowledge of the moral character of 
these people. The ordinary Indian in his natural state, 
and before he feels the influence of white men, is of de- 
cidedly admirable morality. There are, of course, excep- 
tions ; but such individuals are very rare, and are soon 
killed or driven out from the tribe. To women and children, 
and to those weaker than himself, the Indian is gentle ; he 
is very observant of the rights of his equals, from whom, he 
in turn, receives a like observance. To his superiors, the 
head of his family, and the head-man of his settlement, he 
is as obedient as a good child. The last fact was made 
manifest to me in a curious manner. When living, on 
generally very firiendly terms, with a party of Indians, of 
whom the head-man and one or two of the others spoke a 
few words of English, I, on more than one occasion, gave 
slight, very temporary offence to the chief, who used to in- 
dicate his displeasure by forgetting his English for a time, 
and so forcing me to fall back on my smaU stock of Indian 
words ; and on such occasions the others, though still very 
friendly, used to refuse absolutely to speak English, however 
much I might tempt them, and however fisu: we were from 
the ken of the headman. Within their own families Indians 
are affectionate, though not in a demonstrative maimer. 
They are grateful for any kindness, and, though proud and 
very ready to take offence, are easily pacified. In the 
absence of anything corresponding to police regulations, 
their mutual relations in everyday life are very well-ordered 
by the traditional respect which each individual feels for the 
rights of the others, and by their dread of adverse public 
opinion should they act contrary to such traditions. The 
kenaima system — the duty, that is, of revenging all shedding 
of blood, the explanation of which I must defer to a separate 
chapter — also helps greatly to keep order. Nor is it only 
that homicide must be paid for by death. In theory, if not 


in practice, a complete system of tit-for-tat, of eye for 
eye, has saturated the mind of the Indian and regulates 
his whole life. The smallest injury done by one Indian to 
another, even if unintentional, must be atoned by suBering 
a similar injury. Of course all this refers chiefly to the 
mutual relations of members of the same tribe ; for the 
Indian has no dealings with tribes other than his own, 
except occasionally to barter, when his dealings are regu- 
lated by the ordinary laws of honesty, and the strangers with 
merchandise are for the time being treated as members of 
the tribe. Yet even in deaUng with white men, the Indian 
cannot shake himself free from the ideas generated by this 
tit-for-tat system. Two curious illustrations of this fact 
came under my notice. One was when the Macusi boy Moe, 
of whom mention has already been made, overheard me 
^ beg pardon ' of a companion whom I had accidentally 
struck. Moe immediately asked, * what that you say, " beg 
you pardon " ? ' After I had explained to the best of my 
power, I asked the boy to translate the words into his own 
language. Then there was a great consultation between 
Moe and the other Macusis, and only after that was I told a 
Macusi version of * I beg your pardon.' It turned out to be 
* me hit you again.' The second instance was this. An 
Arawak named Robert, belonging to the Corentyn River, 
undertook to accompany a young fellow from New Amster- 
dam on a shooting excursion. Some monkeys being seen 
at the top of a tree, the white man fired and apparently 
killed one, which, however, as is often the case, remained 
clinging to the bough. Robert cUmbed for it, and when 
near enough shook the branch to make the animal fall. The 
man below hearing the rustle and thinking that the monkey 
had revived and was escaping fired his second barrel straight 
into the tree. Unfortunately that part of Robert's body 
which, as the man told of in * Tom Cringle's Log ' said 
*is nearest the chair,' being directly overhead, received 
the charge. Down came the Indian, furious and vowing 
that if the white man did not stand to receive an 'exactly 


equivalent shot he would shoot and hit him in a more vital 
part. It was long before the culprit, who appears to have 
been really unnerved by the mischief he had done, could 
persuade the Indian to forego his just retaliation. 
/ The fact, of which we shall presently have abundant 
evidence, that the men leave to the women a far larger 
share of the necessary work than appears to us proper, may 
seem somewhat to contradict the favourable verdict on the 
mutual relations of Indians. In reality the men's work, 
hunting, and cuttiDg down trees where cassava is to be 
planted, is at least equal to, though accomplished more fit- 
fully than, that of the women. And, moreover, no different 
distribution of labour has ever entered into the thoughts of 
Indians, and the women do their share of work willingly, with- 
out question, and without compulsion. The women in a quiet 
way even have a considerable amount of influence with the 
men ; and even if the men were — though this is in £act quite 
contrary to their nature — inclined to treat them cruelly, public 
opinion would prevent this. Moreover, the women, just be- 
cause they have been accustomed to labour hard all their lives, 
and because this has been the rule for an unknown number of 
generations, are probably very little, if any, weaker than the 
men ; and if a contest arose between an average man and an 
average woman, it is very doubtful with which the victory 
would be. 

The Ufe led by forest and savannah Indians alike, is very 
simple and unvaried. The day begins before dawn. Men 
and women turn out of their hammocks and stretch them- 
selves. The first thing done is to wash. The morning bath 
over, the men, if it does not happen to be a day for hunt- 
ing, throw themselves back into their hammocks and there 
spend almost the whole day, smoking cigarettes made of 
home-grown tobacco wrapt in the inner bark of a tree, and 
leisurely fashioning arrow-heads or some such article of use 
or of ornament. The hard work falls on the women. They 
clean the house — so far as cleaning is considered necessary — 
fetch water and firewood, cook the food, make the breads 


nurse the children, plant the fields, dig the produce ; and 
when any of the men travel, the women carry whatever 
^^Shg^ is necessary. When not engaged in cultivating 
their fields, in feeding their fathers, husbands, brothers, or 
sons, the women fetch water for the house firom the nearest 
stream in clay bottles or in goobies (gourds), or they take 
surianas — ^large baskets which fit on the back and are sup- 
ported by a band placed across the forehead — and fetch 
heavy loads of firewood. When all these things are done, 
they yet, if there is but little cassava bread left, have to 
replenish the stock. This last labour — no easy one — ^seems 
almost incessant. It is rare to enter an Indian house with- 
out seeing sonie, sometimes all, of the women engaged in 
making bread. 

But the list of the woman's labours is not yet complete. 
They make the hammocks, both for the use of their own 
people and for exchange with other Indians and with white 
traders ; and even if it does sometimes happen that there is 
yet a little time after these many household cares have been 
fulfilled, they at once sit down to make queyvs, aprons of 
beads — ^their only dress ; — or to spin cotton, or weave the 
small hammocks which serve as cradles for their children. 
With all these occupations an Indian woman finds but little 
time during the day to be in her hammock. 

When the day has at last come to an end, and the 
women have gathered together enough wood for -the fires 
during the night, they too throw themselves into their ham- 
mocks ; and all talk together. Till far into the night, the 
men tell endless stories, sometimes droning them out in a 
sort of monotonous chant, sometimes delivering them with a 
startling amount of emphasis and gesticulation. The boys 
and younger men add to the noise by marching round the 
houses, blowing horns and playing on flutes. There is but 
little rest to be obtained in an Indian settlement by night. 
These people sleep, as dogs do, without difficulty, for brief 
periods, but firequently and indifferently by day or night as 
may be convenient. The men, having slept at intervals during 


the day, do not need night-rest ; the women are not considered 
in the matter. At last, in the very middle of their stories, 
the party drops ofif to sleep ; and all is quiet for a short 
while. Presently some woman gets up to renew the fires or 
to see to some other domestic work. Soused by the noise 
which she makes, all the dogs of the settlement break into 
a chorus of barks and yelps. This wakes the children, who 
begin to scream. The men turn in their hammocks, and 
immediately resimie their stories, apparently &om the point 
at which they left oflf, and as if they had never ceased. 
This time it is but a short interruption to the silence of the 
night; and before long everything again becomes quiet, till 
some new outbreak is caused, much as was the last. In the 
very middle of the night there are perhaps some hours of 
qidet. But about an hour before dawn, some of the men, 
having to go out to hunt, eflfectually wake everybody about 
them by playing flutes or beating drums as they go to bathe 
before leaving the settlement. 

Turning from the story of the day to the story of the 
life, we may begin at the beginning, that is, at the birth of 
the children. And here at once we meet with perhaps the 
most curious point in the habits of the Indians ; the couvade 
or male child-bed. This custom, which is common to the 
imcivilized people of many parts of the world, is probably 
among the strangest ever invented by the himian brain. Even 
before the child is bom, the fetther abstains for a time from 
certain kinds of animal food. The woman works as usual up 
to a few hours before the birth of the child. At last she 
retires alone, or accompanied only by some other women, to 
the forest, where she ties up her hammock; and then the 
child is bom.* Then in a few hours — often less than a 

I Bichard Schombnrgk says (of Macosis) : * Der Nabelstiang wild von 
•der Mutter oder der Schwester der Oebabrenden abgeschnitten ; ist das 
neugebome Kind ein Knabe, so geschieht dies mit einem scharf geschnit- 
tenen Bambusrohr ; ist es ein Madchen, mit einem Stdck Pfeilrohr 
(Gyn&rium sawharaides^ worauf er mit einem baumwollenenen Faden 
unterbimden wird*' (^MeUen in Brititoh Gniana, vol. ii. p. 313). According 
to the same authority the teeth of the mother are, among the Warraus, 
used instead of the bamboo. (Ibid. p. 166.) 


day — ^the woman, who like all women living in a very 
unartificial condition, suffers but little, gets up and re- 
sumes her ordinary work. According to Schomburgk, tb& 
mother, at any rate among the Macusis, remains in her ham- 
mock for some time (^ bis dem Kinde die Nabelschnur ab- 
fallt '), and the father hangs his hammock, and lies in it, by 
her side ; but in all cases where the matter came under my 
notice, the mother left her hammock almost at once. In 
any case, no sooner is the child bom than the father takes 
to his hammock and, abstaining from every sort of work, 
from meat and all other food, except weak gruel of 
cassava meal, from smoking, from washing himself, and, 
above all, from touching weapons of any sort, is nursed and 
cared for by all the women of the place. One other regu- 
lation, mentioned by Schomburgk, is certainly quaint ; the 
interesting father may not scratch himself with his finger 
nails, but lie may use for this purpose a splinter, specially 
provided, from the mid-rib of a cokerite palm. This con- 
tinues for many days, and sometimes even weeks. 

Couxade is such a wide-spread institution, that I had 
often read and wondered at it ; but it was not until I saw it 
practised around me, and found that I was often suddenly 
deprived of the services of my best hunters or boat-hands 
by the necessity which they felt, and which nothing could 
persuade them to disregard, of observing couvade, that I 
realized its full strangeness. No satis&ctory explanation 
of its origin seems attainable. It appears based on a belief 
in the existence of a mysterious connection between the 
child and its father — far closer than that which exists be- 
tween the child and its mother, — ^and of such a nature that 
if the fether infringes any of the rules of couvade, for a time 
after the birth of the child, the latter suffers. For instance, 
if he eats the flesh of a water-haas {Caj>yhara\ a large 
rodent with very protruding teeth, the teeth of the child 
will grow as those of the animal; or if he eats the flesh of 
the spotted skinaed labba, the child's skin will become 
spotted. Apparently there is also some idea that for the 


father to eat strong food, to wash, to smoke, or to handle 
weapons, would have the same result as if the new-born 
baby ate such food, washed, smoked, or played with edged 

The child is not weaned till an extraordinarily late age,, 
sometimes not till the third or fourth year ; and, according 
to Schomburgk — though I never saw such a case myself — 
when there are too many children claiming food from one^, 
mother, the grandmother occasionally relieves her of the 
elder. While the child is young a great deal of affection is 
bestowed upon it by both father and mother. The latter 
almost always, even when working, carries it against her hip, 
slung in a small hammock from her neck or shoulder. The 
father, when he returns from hunting, brings it strange 
seeds to play with, fondles it, and makes it necklaces and 
other ornaments. The young children seem fully to recip- 
rocate the affection of their parents ; but as they grow older, 
the affection on both sides seems to cool, though in reality 
it perhaps only becomes less demonstrative. Only once have 
I seen grown-up Indians* mingling in the games of their 
children. Indians rarely, if ever, ill-treat their children, of 
whatever age they may be. As soon as the children can 
nm about, they are left almost to themselves; or rather, 
they begin to mimic their parents. As with the adults, so 
with the children. Just as the grown-up woman works in- 
cessantly, while the men alternately idle and hunt, so the 
boys run wild, playing, not such concerted games as in 
other parts of the world more usually form child's-play, but 
only with mimic bows and arrows ; but the girls, as soon aa 
they can walk, begin to help the older women. Even the 
youngest girl can peel a few cassava roots, watch a pot on 
the fire, or collect and carry home a few sticks of firewood.. 
The games of the boys are all such as train him to fish and 
hunt when he grows up ; the girl's occupations teach her 
woman's work. \^ 

The system under which the Indians have their personal 
names is intricate, and difficult to explain. In the first 


place, a name, which may be called the proper name, is 
always given to a young child soon after birth. It is said to 
be proper that the peaiman, or medicine-man, should choose 
and give this name ; but, at any rate now, the naming seems 
more often left to the parents. The word selected is gener- 
ally the name of some plant, bird, or other natural object. 
Among Arawak proper names may be mentioned YaTnbe- 
naasi (night-naonkey) and Yurir-tokoro (tobacco-flower), and 
among Macusi names Ti-ti (owl), Cheripung (star ?), and 
Simiri (locust-tree). But these names seem of little use, in 
that owners have a very strong objection to telling or using 
them, apparently on the ground that the name is part of the 
man, and that he who knows the name has part of the 
owner of that name in his power. 

To avoid any danger of spreading knowledge of their 
names, one Indian, therefore, generally addresses another 
only according to the relationship of the caller and the 
called, as brother, sister, father, mother, and so on ; or, when 
there is no relationship, as boy, girl, companion, and so on. 
These terms, therefore, practically form the names actually 
used by Indians amongst themselves. But an Indian is 
just as unwilling to tell his proper name to a white man as 
to an Indian ; and, of course, between the Indian and the 
white man there is no relationship the term for which can 
serve as a proper name. An Indian, therefore, when he has 
to do with a European, asks the latter to give him a name, 
^nd if one is given to him, always afterwards uses this. 
The names given in this way are generally simple enough — 
John, Peter, Thomas, and so on. But sometimes they are 
not sufficiently simple to be comprehended and remembered 
by their Indian owners, who therefore, having induced the 
donor to write the name on a piece of paper, preserve this 
ever after most carefully, and whenever asked for their name 
by another European, exhibit the document as the only way 
of answering. Sometimes,* however, an Indian, though he 
cannot pronounce his English names, makes it possible by 
corruption. For instance, a certain Macusi Indian was 


known to me for a long time as Shassapoon, which I thought 
was his proper name, until it accidentally appeared that it 
was his ^ English name/ he having been named by and 
after one Charles Appun, a Grerman traveller. 

After a by no means unhappy childhood, comes the age 
for marrying. The young men choose their wives. The 
choice is restricted by certain regulations to which allusion 
has already been made. 

Boys and girls are often betrothed at a very early age ; 
and the boy or young man brings the game that he shoots, 
and such other presents as he can obtain, to the girl. But 
when the proper age of marriage comes, the youth is free to 
choose his wife, and need not necessarily take the girl to 
whom he was betrothed. Strangely enough, if he deserts 
his old love, he, as a matter of course, reclaims frona her all 
the durable presents, such as beads and other ornaments, 
which he has given her. But before he is allowed to choose 
at all, he must prove that he is a man, and can do man's 
work. Without flinching, he suffers the infliction of wounds 
in his flesh ; or he allows himself to be sewn up in a ham- 
mock full of fire-ants; or by some other similar tests he 
shows his courage. And he clears a space in the forest to be 
planted with cassava, and brings in as much gsgne and tish 
as possible, to show that he is able to support himself and 

Unfortunately the nature of the bargain for a wife is; 
another obscure point. It is certainly sometimes, if not 
always, by purchase from the parents. I was once offered a 
wife in this way ; and that it was at an exorbitantly high 
price was probably owing to the fact that I was rich in such 
wealth as an Indian covets. The price asked was two guns,, 
two cutlasses, ati axe, two razors, some knives, and a piece of 
the blue cloth called salemporas for the father, and twelve 
bunches of beads for his daughter. Sometimes, again, a 
girl is given by her parents to a man in recompense for 
some service done. The marriage once arranged, the hus- 
band immediately transports his possessions to the house of 


his fiather-in-law, and there he lives and works. The head 
of his femily, for whom he is bound to work, and whom he 
obeys, is not his own father, but his wife's. A complete and 
final separation between husband and wife may be made at the 
will of the former at any time before the birth of children ; 
after that, if the husband goes away, as very rarely happens, 
it is considered not lawful separation, but desertion. When 
the family of the young couple become too large to be con- 
veniently housed underneath the roof of the father-in-law, 
the young husband builds a house for himself by the side of 
that of his wife's father ; and to this habit is probably due 
the formation of settlements. And when the head dies, it 
being uncanny to live where a man has died, the various 
house-fathers of the settlement separate, and build houses 
for themselves, each of which, in its turn, forms the nucleus 
of a new settlement. 

Possibly each tribe once had certain ceremonies with 
which they were accustomed to celebrate such events ; but 
these are now rarely discernible. On one occasion a marriage 
took place among the i)eople of the Macusi village in which 
I was living. The old father, very conservative of the 
customs of his tribes, refused to allow his daughter to be 
married at all, unless her husband would take her with the 
old orthodox Macusi ceremony. A few square yards of the 
savannah were cleared of grass and stones. Over this mats, 
made of parallel strips of the pith of the seta palm {Man- 
ritia flexu08a\ were spread. When all was ready, the bride 
and bridegroom were placed in the clearing, round which the 
whole population of the village gathered ; and the marriage 
was there and then carried out. 

One other detail, in connection with the ceremony of 
marriage, ais practised by the Macusis, came under my notice : 
possibly it obtains among other tribes also. The man for 
some time before marriage abstains from meat. Probably 
this habit is founded on an idea similar to that which gave 
rise- to *couvade.' Once, during an expedition with Macusi 
Indians on the savannah, we were for some days entirely 


without provisions except a little venison ; but one of my com- 
panions, who intended to take a wife as soon as the expedition 
was over, refused to take his share of the meat, and went 
without food rather than break through the restrictions en- 
tailed upon him by his coining marriage. Indian husbands 
and wives are as a rule very &ithful to each other ; even on 
the comparatively rare occasions on which there has been some 
looseness before marriage there is none after. Husband and 
wife, without being demonstrative, are decidedly affectionate 
towards each other ; and this, though the woman is held to be 
as completely the property of the man as is his dog. He 
may even sell her if he chooses. Yet, as I have before said, 
the wife — in this, too, like a good and faithful dog — manages 
to obtain considerable influence with her husband. Polygamy 
prevails among some, but not all the tribes. Warraus are 
the most uxorious, some of them having as many as eight or 
ten wives ; and the Wapiana are also polygamists. Macusis 
and Ackawoi are not, except perhaps in the cases of indi- 
viduals who choose to break through the customs of their 
tribe. I am by no means sure, but am incUned to think, on 
the whole evidence, that the Carib tribes are not usually poly- 
gamists, and that some or all the others are, or were. Even 
when there is more than one wife, the first is almost always 
chiefly regarded and favoured ; those that are married after- 
wards seem to be taken more as domestic helpers of the first 
and real wife. From what has already been said of the length 
of time during which the Indian wife suckles her children, it 
will be evident that her power of doing all the household 
work is thereby much diminished. As, however, it is very 
common for an Indian to marry a woman much older than 
himself, as his first wife, this wife often grows inactive and 
useless from sickness or old age. In such cases one or more 
young girls are generally taken into the house, nominally as 
wives, but really rather to be taught their domestic duties by 
the old wife, so that when the latter dies, or becomes perfectly 
useless, one of them may take her place. 

The peaimen, taking advantage of their power, seem. 


at least at the present day, to indulge in a very large number 
of wives. The immense influence which they exercise over 
the other Indians enables them to acquire any number they 
please ; for an Indian, when asked for his daughter, or even 
Sometimes his wife, by his peaiman, dare not refuse. In 
this way it happens that the house of the peaiman is generally 
full of women. These are very useful, for the peaiman in 
the exercise of his calling has to travel often and far ; and on 
Auch occasions the women, as is usual among Indians, serve 
as beasts of burden to carry all the necessary baggage, while 
the peaiman himself, fantastically adorned with feathers and 
paint, marches ahead, burdened only with his magic rattle, 
and perhaps with his bow and arrows. 

The life of almost constant exposure which Indians lead, 
acting on very weak constitutions, kills them at an early 
age, generally by dysentery or consumption. And even 
when one does live longer, life can hardly be enjoyable 
to them; for powerless old age meets with no respect. 
When old and past work, they are indeed allowed to remain 
in their hammocks in the houses which once, perhaps, be- 
longed to them, and are fed by their yoimger relations in a 
rough and grudging manner ; but no further care or kindness 
is shown to them. 

When death comes, either to the old or to the young, the 
survivors, except in rare instances, show but very few outward 
signs of grief. More than once I have seen an Indian die — 
husband, or wife, or son-^and sometimes imder most painful 
and distressing circumstances; but the surviving wife, 
husband, or parent, apparently almost unaffected, within a 
few hours fully resumed his or her usual habits and cheer- 
fulness. Yet, Indians being always so exceedingly reticent 
in the expression of emotion, there is some reason to believe 
that even in such cases the survivors feel a grief which they 
do not exhibit. Occasionally, however, a terrible wailing is 
raised over a dead body and is kept up for many days, some- 
times even after the burial. On such occasions the survivors 
crop their hair ; and, according to Schomburgk, they paint 


themselves in excessive degree with faroah. The ceremonies 
of burial diflfer slightly in each case ; but they are, in the 
main, as follows : The body, wrapped in the hammock which 
belonged to it when living, is put into a hole dug in the 
house and lined with palm-leaves. If the hole is large, 
enough, the body is buried in a sitting position or, in the 
•case of the Ackawoi, in a standing position ; but if, as some- 
times happens, the survivors do not trouble themselves to dig 
a large hole, the body is bent and placed in any position that 
may be most convenient. It is said that the True Caribs were 
in the habit of cleaning and preserving the bones of their 
•dead relations in their houses ; but they certainly no longer 
do this. Various properties of the deceased are put into the 
grave. Schomburgk mentions a curious case of a man who 
had been, or was supix)sed to have been, murdered, into whose 
grave a cord was put with which he might bind his murderer 
should he meet him on the further side of the grave. It is to 
be feared that the respect for the grave has now diminished ; 
for, if the hammock in which the body is wrapped happens 
to be new and good, it is now not unfrequently withdrawn 
from the body. The grave is then filled in. 

Fire is then made over the grave ; a feast is celebrated, 
with dancing, drinking, and singing of songs in which the 
good qualities of the deceased are lamented ; and the house 
is then deserted for ever. To this practice is chiefly due the 
great number of deserted and ruined Indian houses which 
are to be seen in the forest tract. That the forest Indians 
always do this, while those of the savannah occasionally shirk 
the ceremony, is probably due to the fisict that the houses of 
the former, unlike those en the savannah, are so slightly 
built that but little provocation is sufficient to induce their 
owners to desert them and build anew. 

But wherever the body is buried, the grave, when once 
covered with earth, is regarded as sacred, and no Indian — 
unless it be some vile kenaima, whose reason for body-snatch- 
ing will presently be explained — ^ventures to disturb it. 

The bodies of peaimen — at least among the Macusis — 



are disposed of in a somewhat different manner. Their graves 
are dug not in the nearest convenient spot, but on a special 
hill, of somewhat peculiar shape, and well-wooded, which 
stands isolated on the savannah in front of the northern face 
of the Ganakoo mountains. The Macusis of the village of 
Karenacroo, on the Boopoonooni savannah, have a special 
place for burying their dead ; but this seems quite an excep- 
tional instance. 




Hnnting Parties — * Beenas ' — Dogs— Fish Poisoning — Baling out Pools for 
Fish — Fish Arrows : Three Fish Arrows ; a Three-pronged Fish Arrow — 
Hook and Line — Fish Traps — Turtle Arrows — Iguana Shooting — Guns — 
Game Arrows : Iron-headed Game Arrows ; Bamhoo-headed Arrows ; 
Poisoned Arrows — Bird Arrows: Special Arrows for Large and Small 
Birds; Blunt-headed Arrows for Birds — Blow-pipes — * Calling* Birds — 
Preserving Booty — Return of the Hunting Party. 

The Indians of Guiana, with many other tribes, have been 
put into a class, and labelled as * the |iunting tribes of South 
America.' The name is, however, misleading, at least as far 
as the Indians of Guiana are concerned ; for these tribes 
live as much by a rude, but not unproductive, kind of agri- 
culture as by hunting. Probably their lives are supported 
in about equal degree by the produce of their fields and by 
their gains in the chase. An opportunity will be found in 
another chapter to describe their agriculture; at present 
their methods of capturing fish and game will be told. 

Hunting is the most important occupation in the life of 
an Indian man. In the very simple system of life followed 
by these people, food may be said to be the chief thing for 
which they have to exert themselves. Their wants in the 
way of clothing and shelter are very easily satisfied. Only 
food has incessantly to be provided. The women, with but 
very little help from the men, gain part of this by cultivat- 
ing certain plants, especially cassava, and the men contribute 
their share by hunting. So important to them is this latter, 
that an Indian takes rank in his village or settlement ac- 
cording to his skill in the chase ; and even the boys, as soon 
as they are no more than mere babies, have no other toys 



than small bows and arrows and such mimic weapons of the 
chase, which become bigger and bigger, more like the real 
things, as the boy grows older. Every boy, almost as soon 
as he can walk, can send his arrow into a frog ; a little later, 
lizards are his aim ; and again a little later, small birds. 

Hunting is not, however, a constant occupation. The 
Indian leaves his home and spends many days hunting in 
the forests or on the savannahs, or fishing on the rivers ; 
but when he returns he spends many days almost inces- 
santly in his hammock, until, in fact, he and his family 
have consumed the produce of his chase. 

He never goes on these expeditions alone. He is too 
timid, and fearful of the attacks of enemies. If he fails to 
induce another man to accompany him, he takes his wife, his 
mother, or even a child, who, if unable to do anything else, 
at least supply a second pair of eyes to watch the approach 
of danger. Often, however, hunting parties, especially when 
the object sought is fish, consist of a large number of indi- 

Before an Indian sets out to hunt, he goes through one 
or more strange performances to ensure success. Bound his 
house he has planted various sorts of ^ beenas ' ^ or plants, 
generally caladiums, which he supposes to act as charms to 
make the capture of game certain. These are for his dogs, 
which are made to swallow pieces of the roots and leaves. 
Sometimes the poor brutes have to undergo more painful 
operations. For example, two holes are dug in the ground, 
and by pushing a stick from one to the other of these, and 
then withdrawing this, a tunnel or covered passage is made 
between the two holes. A fire, in which parings of the hoofs 
of tapirs and other animal substances are burned, is then 
kindled in one hole ; ants and wasps are also put into this 
hole, and it is then covered over with sticks and earth. 
The ammoniacal smoke from the burning hoofs, the ants and 
the marabimtas of course pass through the tunnel into the 

> * Beenas ' is the Carib word. I do not know the equivalent in the 
other languages. 



Fig. 7. 

second hole. The poor dog is then caught, and its head is 
held down in this second hole, until the 
animal sometimes drops senseless fix>m 
pain. Or, probably when there is less time 
to spare, ants and other insects are, with- 
out other preparation, made to bite the 
nostrils of the dog. But the Indian, cruel 
to his dog, does not spare hims3lf in his 
desire to ensure successful sport. At some 
previous time he has woven a number of 
strings of fibre, called em/naJci, each a yard 
^nd a half long, or more, and tapering 
from a very small point at one end to a 
considerable thickness at the other end, 
where the fibres hang loosely in a bunch 
(Fig. 7). He now takes one of these strings, 
and passing the thin end up his nostril, 
manages to bring it out through his 
mouth, and thus pulls the whole length of 
the string in at the nostril and out at the 
mouth. To judge by appearance this must 
be a most painful operation. Or he takes 
a small mat, about six or eight inches 
square, made of narrow parallel strips of 
the skin of a reed-like plant {Ischnoai- 
phon), tied together somewhat as are the 
laths of a Venetian blind (Fig. 8, p. 230). 
Between each two of these strips he inserts 
a row of living ants, their heads all one 
way. The strips are exactly at such a dis- 
tance apart that the ants when once in- 
serted cannot extricate themselves. The 
huntsman then presses the whole mat, on 
the side on which are the heads of the 
ants, against his own chest ; and the ants, / / // - « 
which are of a large and venomous kind, '/'/ ' J 
bite most painfully. Or, in other cases, 




the huntsman looks for certain large and very hairy cater- 
pillars, the hairs of which break off very readily and have a 
great power of irritating flesh. These caterpillars he rubs on 
his chest or thighs, and thus produces a considerable and very 
painful-looking rash. I have seen all these means of torture 
employed by Macusis, Arecunas, and Ackawoi, either on them- 
selves or on their dogs ; and, though I have had no experience, 

Fio. 8. 

Ant Bbbka. 

I have little doubt that these or similar methods are em- 
ployed by the other ti-ibes also. 

The use of beenas is very curious. The avowed purpose 
is, as has been said^ to ensure success. But the line of 
thought by which the hunter mentally connects success in 
the acquisition of game with pain previously inflicted on 
himself or his dogs is not obvious. For such cases as those 
in which leaves or other parts of certain plants are rubbed 
into wounds on the noses of the dogs, it seems at first sight 


probable that this is done on the supposition that the power 
of scent in the dogs is thereby improved. But such cannot 
be the explanation of the other forms of beena which have 
been described ; and, as the term beena is applied to all the 
forms indiscriminately, it is probable that there is only one 
explanation for all the forms. I can only suggest that the 
custom was adopted with the idea of preparing to meet with-^ 
out flinching any pain or danger that may arise during the 
chase. Perhaps the matter may be made clear by one or two 
illustrations drawn from more familiar experiences. A living 
novelist has made one of his male characters say that among 
men he has known are some who are very good fellows and 
friendly, but who are not the sort of men to stand by a friend 
in an exciting tussle with a tiger. The meaning of this is 
not that such men are in any way cowards, but that, never 
having experienced pain,^ such men flinch involuntarily in 
moments of danger. Just in the same way, one occasionally 
sees a man, physically strong and morally brave to an 
unusual degree, but who, just because of his strength, has 
never before suffered the pains of illness, flinch and moan 
when he for the first time becomes ill, far more than another 
man, really a coward but who is accustomed to such pain, 
does under similar circumstances. Again, if a man is acci- 
dentally burned, he shrinks and shows sign of pain ; but if 
with full forethought and determination he puts his hand 
into the flame, he can hold it there for any length of time 
without flinching even in the least degree. Of course the 
Indian has not analysed this psychological fact, but yet he 
knows empirically that by accustoming himself to bear pain 
voluntarily inflicted, he prepares his nerves to withstand the 
shock of any pain or danger that may come suddenly. The 
«ame reason explains the fearful tortures which, as Gatlin 
has most vividly depicted. North American Indians volun- 
tarily undergo when they put away childish things and 
become men, and also the similar, but slighter tortures which 
South Americans inflict on themselves at the same epoch in 
their lives ; and lastly, the same reason perhaps explains the 


use which the Indians of Gruiana make of beenas on the fre- 
quent occasions on which they prepare to hunt. 

A word must be said as to the dogs used by Indians in 
hunting. Indigenous species of dogs exist in America ; but 
our own domestic dog, which is used by the Indians, was, of 
course, first introduced into America by the Spaniards. The 
best hunting Jiogs are, however, said, and apparently with 
truth, to be cross-bred with one or other of two species of 
wild dogs {Cams cancrivorus and (7. azarce). The breed 
of the Indian dogs is, however, so very mixed, that the 
parentage is never very evident. Almost every Indian 
house now swarms with an undue number of miserable- 
looking curs, most of which are never fed at all, but have to 
live on the very few scraps of food which they can manage 
to pick up for themselves. But such dogs as show an aj)ti- 
tude for hunting are treated very differently, and are care- 
fully trained. They are fed with the best food that is to be 
had. Often they are not allowed to lie on the ground 
(which generally swarms with jiggers {Pulex penetrans) and 
other noxious vermin), but are tied so that they can stand or 
lie only on raised platforms of sticks. The best of these 
hunting dogs — which, like the others, are of no particular 
breed — are bred by the Tarumas, a remote tribe living near 
the head waters of the Essequibo, and especially skilful as 
trainers. Hunting dogs form a regular article of barter, and 
are very highly valued. A hunting dog, a good gun, and a 
large canoe are of about equal value in Indian economy. 
As a rule, each dog is only trained to hunt one sort- of game ; 
so that one is a deer-dog, another a labba-dog, and so on. 
It is said that when one dog hunts various kinds of animals, 
he gives tongue, when on the scent, differently for each 
kind of game. When hunting, these dogs are generally 
turned into the forest on the bank of the river, while the 
Indian himself remains in his canoe on the water. The 
game, when once started, is driven by the dogs down to the 
water, where it is killed by the Indian. 

There is a very curious superstition connected with 


hunting dogs, that if a pregnant woman eats of the game^ 
caught by their means, they will never hunt again. 

The variety of game for which the Indian seeks is large. 
In the forest there are deer, tapir, two kinds of wild hogs or 
peccaries, labba, acourie and adourie ; and there are tortoises. 
There are also many birds, among which the powis or curas- 
8ow-bird, maroodie or wild-turkey, and the various species of 
maam, are especially sought. On the savannahs is another 
kind of deer, and, in the reeds at the edges of ponds, num- 
bers of ducks of various kinds. In the river are fish and 
turtles of many sorts ; and on the river-banks are small 
alligators and — though these are not eaten by many of the^ 
tribes — ^water-haas or capybaras. 

Let us suppose that the Indian hunting party is ready 
to start. If fish is sought, these are obtained either by 
{x>isoning some creek or side stream, or by shooting them 
with arrows, by netting, by fish traps, or by hook and line. 
The first is, however, the chief, as it is the most picturesque, 
mode of fishing. 

A suitable creek or an inlet from a' larger river having 
been chosen, a dam is built across the mouth of this, to pre- 
vent the fish which happen to be within the creek from 
passing back into the main river. Sometimes the dam is 
made merely by heaping stones and earth ; but more often a 
number of straight stakes are tied together, parallel to each 
other, as are the laths of a Venetian blind, and the palisade 
thus produced is fastened across the mouth of the stream. 
Boots, stems, or seeds of plants are then beaten until the 
fibres are loosened, and these are put into the stream at 
a point some distance above the dam. The narcotic juices 
of these particular plants saturate the water, and stupify 
but do not kill the fish. Along the banks the Indians 
stand watching. Before long a few tiny fish rise to the sur- 
face, gasp, leap out from the water, fall back into the stream, 
turn on to their backs, and at last float motionless down the 
stream. Gradually larger and larger fish show similar signs 
of discomfort. They dart quickly down the stream, trying 


to escape out of the poisonous water which surrounds them ; 
then, checked by the dam, they turn, struggle violently, and 
in a little while they too float motionless on the water. If 
there are many fish in the creek, the water gradually be- 
comes white with their up-turned sides. Meanwhile, the 
Indians on the bank busy themselves in shooting such of the 
large fish as might in their struggles escape over the dam, 
and in collecting those which are already motionless. Very 
large quantities of fish are often procured in this way, and 
these, in spite of the poison, are in no way unfit for food. 
Of the small fish which are left in the water, the very 
smallest die, but the others after a time recover &om their 
stupor, and remain to restock the stream. 

The fish-poisons most generally used are the roots of the 
haiari (Lonchocarpua densifioms), the seeds of the connami 
(Clibadium asperum, Dec). Less common poisons are the 
haiari-bq.lli of the Arawaks {Mullera TnonUiformis), and 
the jrarro-conalli of the Macusis {Tephroaia toxicaria), and 
many others. 

Another method of procuring fish is perhaps best men- 
tioned here. When the rivers sink, fish are sometimes 
naturally left, without possibility of escape, in the pools ; 
and sometimes when this is not the case the Indians 
enclose part of a stream or river by dams. In either case 
the water is baled out in hollow gourds until the fish, strug- 
gling and panting at the bottom, can be seized by the hand. 

Far greater skill is required to shoot fish with arrows; 
indeed, the skill with which the Indian in this way pierces 
his prey, often hardly visible through the water, is most sur- 
prising. The arrows used for this purpose differ — ^partly 
according to the circumstances under which they axe to be 
used, partly according to the tribe by which they are used. 
The most important of these is the harpoon-arrow (Fig. 9 a), 
which is used almost exclusively by the True Caribs to shoot 
one particular kind of fish, which firequents the rushing 
water of cataracts or rapids. In this, one end of a long 
string or line is fixed to the head of the arrow, into which 


the shaft is only very 
loosely inserted, and this 
line is again attached, at 
about half-way along its 
length, to the shaft, and 
finally, at its extreme end, 
to the arm of the shooter. 
The result of this arrange- ' 
meut is that the head of 
the arrow when it hits the 
fish becomes detached from 
the shaft, which floats on 
top of the water while the 
line connects the arrow- 
head in the fish, the float- 
ing shaft, and the wrist of 
the shooter. 

The haipoon-aTFOws are 
used principally for shoot* 
ing pacu. This fish {Paca 
tiiyletea) abounds at all 
seasons of the year in most 
of the large rivers of 
Ouiana. When the river is 
high and the water is tur- 
bid with rain, the pacu are 
distributed equally in all 
parts of the riversj and are 
almost invisible. When, 
however, in the dry season, 
the river is low and the 
water clear, when the rocks 
which form the rapids are 
partially uncovered, and 
the ' pacu-grass,' a small 
water-plant {Lada), which 
-clothes these rocks, comes 




into flower, then the paeu collect at these falls to feed on 
the leaves. Large numbers of Indians then camp at the 
sides of the falls to shoot these fish. Such a scene is highly 
picturesque. The place is generally a wide extent of river- 
bed, apparently enclosed by the forested banks, and entirely 
occupied by a curious confusion of rocks and white rushing 
water. On a rock in the midst of, and almost covered by, 
the tumbling water, stands an Indian, his feet crushing the 
delicate, star-shaped, pink flowers of the Lads, and every 
muscle in his naked cinnamon-coloured body bearing witness 
to the intentness of his watch. His bow is half drawn ; the 
arrow is in position, but its point rests idly on the rocks.. 
The water is rushing and tumbling so wildly that an un- 
practised eye can see nothing below its surface. But the 
Indian sees. Quickly the bow is raised, aim is taken, the 
arrow flies, and its shaft is there, dancing and tumbling in 
the water, carried here and there by the terrified rushes of 
an unseen pacu, in the body of which the arrow-head is em- 
bedded. But the line not only connects arrow-head and 
arrow-shaft, but its other end is held firmly in the hands of 
the Indian, who now easily hauls the fish on to the rock. 
Sometimes, instead of waiting on a rock, in his eagerness he 
stands waiting in the midst of the almost overwhelming 
rush of the water, stooping, the better to resist its force. 
In either case, if he is skilful, he gets a large number of 
fish. I have seen fifteen pacu, averaging about seven or 
eight pounds in weight, shot by one man in about twenty 
minutes. When enough have been taken, the Indian loads 
his canoe, and returns to his temporary camp. The fish are 
then cut open and cleaned, their sides are slit again and 
again, salt is rubbed in, and they are put on the rocks to 
dry in the sun. 

It is not, however, only in the falls that the Indian 
^hoots fish, though he rarely gets pacu elsewhere. In the 
smooth reaches of the river he shoots oth^r fish of various 
kinds. Indeed he can almost always and everywhere find, 
fish to shoot ; and he rarely fails to hit them when they are once 


«een. Where the water is smooth, two other fish-arrows are 
used. Of these two, one (see Fig. 9 6, p. 235) differs from 
the harpoon only in that a short line connects only the head 
— which in this case also is only slipped on to the shaft — and 
the shaft, instead of being carried on to the arm of the shooter. 
The struggles of the fish when hit immediately cause the 
shaft to slip out of the head ; and the former, which is very 
long and light, floats on the top of the water, but remains con- 
nected with the fish by the line, and so serves as a buoy and 
mark of the position of the fish. In the second (see Fig. 9 
^ and d, p. 235), which is used chiefly by the Macusis and other 
savannah tribes, there is no line, for the head is permanently 
attached to the shaft. 

In all three cases the arrow-head is either doubly, sym- 
metrically, barbed, or has only a single barb on one side, 
according to th6 fancy of its owner. 

When the river is high, and heavy rain still frequently 
falls and dulls the colour of the water, so that even the 
Indian can hardly see the fish under the surface, a stratagem 
is used. A basket of open wicker-work, filled with the green 
apple-like fruit of the lana {Oenipa americaTia)^ is thrown 
into the river and allowed to swim with the stream. Stand- 
ing in the bow of his canoe or wood-skin, while another man 
paddles, the Indian follows the floating basket. The lana 
seems to be a very attractive bait to fish, for they rarely fail 
to rise to it. As soon as this happens, a rush through the 
water indicating where the fish is, the arrow flies, and the 
fish is almost invariably transfixed. 

Another form of fish-arrow (see Fig. 9 6, p. 235), used 
principally for shooting small fish in the shallows left by the 
falling river, ends, trident-like, in three singly barbed prongs, 
each of which is several inches in length. Fish of larger size 
which have resorted to the shallow waters to spawn are also 
a favourite aim for these arrows. Fish-roes are a great 
delicacy to the Indians, who in the spawning-season shoot 
an immense number of heavy fish, the bodies of which are 
of little account when the roes have been extracted. The 



roes are then smoked; aod in this state large baskets of 
them may often be seen in their houses. 

A store of hooks and lines for barter is almost necessary 
to a traveller. Whether this mode of fishing has or has not 
been learned from Europeans, it is now frequently practised. 
Most beautiftiUy finished hooks of large size (2-4 inch) are 
even sometimes made by the Indians themselves. These 
large hooks are used for such gigantic fish as the low-low 
{Silurue, sp ?), sometimes from ten to twelve feet long, and 
the aropaima {Svdis g'igaa), which often attain a length of 
eight or ten feet. One fish, the haimara {Erythrimis)y 
which frequents certain parts of the river, is generally 
caught with a hook attached to a short line and a spring rod. 
The whole apparatus is fastened on some rock and left over- 
night. Where haimara abound the rocks may occasionally 
be seen covered with a thicket of old rods. The bait used 
in fishing with hook and line is sometimes a piece of meat, 
but more often the seed of some plant. Indians are per- 
fectly aware that fish gather in large numbers in water over 
which hang certain trees and other plants, at the time when 
the ripe fruit drops, to eat the seeds. For instance, one 
tree thus attractive to fish is the Hatie * india-rubber ' plant 
(Hevea Spruceana), and among creepers may be mentioned 
Smilax cayannenais. Acting on this knowledge the Indians 
use the seeds of this and other plants similarly attractive 
as bait on their hooks. Small hooks are in great request 
among Indian children, and are used also by the Arecunas, 
who live on the savannahs about Roraima, often far from any 
but very small streams, and who are consequently obliged to 
content themselves with very small fish. 
/ In these small streams are shoals of fish a few inches in 
length. To catch these the Arecunas use two methods 
which are apparently not in general use among the other 
Indians. Sometimes they catch them in nets made like 
landing-nets, the hoop being made of a pliant piece of wood 
or strip of bark ; sometimes in small wicker-work traps, not 
unlike English eel-baskets in principle. 


Less legitimate, but far more dexterous, was the occa^ 
sional fishing of a Macusi Indian who was with me on the 
Eoopoonooni ; and who, when the canoe was near the bank, 
used to watch for a particular kind of fish, and as soon a& 
one appeared, would dive from the canoe, chase the fish 
to the bank, drive it into some hole there, seize 

Fig 10 

it with his hands, and then bring it up. 

Turtles and iguana lizards are also often shot 
by the Indians. A special arrow (Fig. 10), with a 
small, but very strong head, only slipped on to the 
shaft with which it is connected by a long line 
wound round the shaft, is used for shooting turtle. 
The Indian aims not directly at the turtle, but uj) 
into the air, in such a wjiy that the arrow in its 
descent hits the animal with wonderful precision, 
and, gathering force in its fall, pierces the shell. 
The turtle immediately dives. The shaft of the 
arrow slips out of the head, the line which con- 
nects shaft and head unwinds, and the former 
floats on top of the water. By the line, thus 
buoyed by the shaft, the turtle is readily drawn 
into the canoe. The Indian, having learned the 
tenacity of life of these creatures, generally has 
a turtle-pen near his house, where he keeps a 
living stock for use. 

The iguanas, climbing up the bushes over- 
hanging the edges of the river, lie sunning them- 
selves on the highest branches. In this position 
they can hardly be detected by an unpractised 
eye. But the Indian, passing in his canoe, keeps 
his eye fixed on the banks. The cry of * waia- 
mucka,' the Carib name for the animal, is one of 

^ . . Turtle Ariiow. 

the most frequent mterruptions to the water 
journey. As soon as it is heard, the surest shot among the 
Indians seizes his bow and arrow — by preference an arrow 
pointed with bone — and shoots. Sometimes the creature 
drops unhurt, or but slightly touched, into the water, and 


there easily escapes among the mass of roots and dipping 
branches; sometimes it falls, transfixed by the arrow; but 
most often, if badly wounded, it remains motionless on the 
branch, and the Indian has to climb for it. To seize it, if 
it is not dead, is dangerous work ; for the iguana can give a 
very bad bite. When once seized by the back of the neck, 
a few blows with a stick or cutlass put an end to its 

Hunting for game is quite as important to the Indians as 
fishing. For this purpose, he now as often as not takes a 
gun, instead of the bow and arrows or the blow-pipe which 
are his own proper weapons. The ambition of almost every 
Indian is to obtain sufficient money, or goods exchangeable 
with white men, to buy a gun. For this pm-pose he will 
undergo fer more labour than he will endure for any other 
end, and will travel almost any distance. Large numbers 
of very inferior guns are imported into the colony to meet 
this demand, and are sold at a retail price of from one to two 
pounds. The chief point to which an Indian looks to in 
choosing his gun is its length. The longer the barrel is, the 
better he is pleased. The reason for this seems to be that 
an Indian, in order to make sure of his game, likes to make 
as big a hole in it as possible. He therefore not only 
stealthily approaches bird or beast, until the muzzle of his 
gun almost touches the body of the animal, before he fires, 
but he likes a very large gun in order that the whole mass 
of the shot may enter unscattered. Owing to this circum- 
stance, of a bunch of ten or twelve pigeons, which were shot 
and brought to me on one occasion by an Indian, scarcely a 
shred of flesh was left on the breast of any one. Another 
somewhat remarkable thing, and one of which I can offer no 
explanation, is that as soon as a gun is his, the Indian takes 
off and throws away the cap of the screw- worm at the end of 
the ramrod. 

But we are more concerned with the Indian's own wea- 
pons. These are bow and arrows and the blow-pipe. 

The arrows used for shooting game, as for fish, are of 



Fio. 11. 

several kinds. For big game, such as bush-hog and deer, 
the Indian uses an arrow with a diamond-shaped head, like 
that of a spear, but occasionally somewhat varied in detail of 
shape, and of very various sizes. (Fig. 11, gr, i, ^*, and k.) 
These spear-headed arrows are 
used by most of the tribes ; but 
they seem more common among 
the Caribs and Ackawoi — i.e. 
the coast Caribs — than among 
the Macusi and Arecunas, the 
savannah Caribs. All the arrows, 
whether intended for fish or for 
game, which have at present been 
mentioned, are now filed by the 
Indian out of a piece of the iron 
hoop of a barrel, or of any other 
old metal on which he can lay 
hands. Formerly, and not so very 
long ago, they were probably made 
of the bones of turtle or other 
animals, of the shells of certain 
molluscs, or of stone. A True 
Carib, of about forty years of age, 
who served as captain during 
several of my expeditions, has 
often assured me that as a boy he 
used to see these bone, shell, or 
stone-pointed arrows in common 
use. He himself still uses a bone- 
pointed arrow for a special pur- 
pose. I first questioned him on 
the subject when I saw him 
fashioning a piece of bone into 

an arrow-head ; and he told me that this was to shoot iguanas 
{Iguana Utberculata), and that bone arrows are especially 
adapted for that purpose. On one occasion I saw similar 
arrows, headed with stone, in the possession of some Arecunas, 




Oamjb Arrows. 


It is to be noted that all the arrows which yet remain to be 
mentioned are tipped, not with iron, but with wood. 

To return to the subject of game-arrows : the savannah 
tribes, instead of the iron diamond-headed arrows, for big 
game use arrows (Fig. 11 A, p. 241) with very long lance- 
shaped heads made of a bamboo called by the Indians ^rap- 
poo.' This bamboo — which only grows in a few places — ^is 
cut and carefully dried. The arrow-head is then shaped, and 
is hardened in the fire ; when fixed into the reed shaft, it is 
ready for use, and is supposed to possess poisonous qualities. 
The Indians assert that these arrows are as poisonous as those 
smeared with the deadly ourali ; and this statement seems 
confirmed by Bichard Schomburgk and by C. B. Brown. The 
latter tells the story of a peccary hunt, during which he saw 
one of these animals, when struck by a rappoo arrow, stand 
still, apparently paralysed, for a time, and then fall dead. 
Wishing to try the experiment, I have more than once caused 
one of these arrows to be shot gently into a fowl, so that it 
entered only a very little way and not in a vital part. The 
fowls were certainly, and naturally, frightened, but showed 
no more fatal signs than would have been the case if the 
wound had been made by the most harmless splinter of wood 
or other weapon. When I pointed this out to the Indians 
who were standing round, they .explained that the poison 
only took eflfect if the arrow went in far enough ; that is, 
probably, if it touched some vital spot. I think, therefore, 
that the poisonous character attributed to this bamboo-wood 
miy be considered as doubtful, until more accurate experi- 
ments have been made. 

A far more deadly weapon, used also by the savannah 
tribes, sometimes for animals, sometimes for birds, is the 
ourali arrow. The points (Fig. IS^pp and jypp), which are 
long, narrow, and flat strips of light wood, smeared with a 
vegetable poison called ourali, more or less jagged according 
to the purpose for which they are intended, are inserted in 
the socket at the end of the reed shaft (Fig. 1 2 6). These 
points are either carried separately from the shaft, in a small 

P0I80KED AKitOWa. 


quiver {Fig. 13 s) made of hollow bamboo, and are only in- 
serted in the shaft the moment before the arrow ia to be 
used ; or, if they are carried in the shaft they are covered 
with a sheath of hollow bamboo (Fig. 12 d). In either case. 



whether the points are carried separately or whether they are 
protected by a sheath, the object of the precaution is to pro- 
tect the hand of the Indian from any chance of contact with. 


the deadly poison with which the points are smeared. In 
another place I shall have occasion to speak of the making of 
this ourali poison, which is used both for these arrows and 
for the darts of the blow-pipe ; for the present it is sufficient 
to say that it is a vegetable substance prepared by the Indians 
themselves, and especially by the Macusis ; and that its effect 
is gradually to diminish, and finally to stop, the action of the 
heart of any animal into the blood of which it enters. 

The points of these arrows are of two forms : the stouter 
(Fig. ISpp, p. 243), with only one or two notches, is used 
especially for * baboons ' — i.e. red howling monkeys {Mycetes 
seniculus)^ and for other monkeys ; the more slender (Fig. 
ISpppf p. 243), with many notches, is used for birds.' A very 
slender variety of the latter kind, smeared with but little 
poison, is also used for such birds and small animals as are 
not to be eaten, but to be tamed. Whether in such cases any 
antidote is used to counteract the effects of the poison, I was 
never able to learn ; but I am inclined to think that the real 
reason of recovery (for though many animals treated in this 
way doubtless die, a few live) is that there is only a very 
minute quantity of poison on the arrow used in shooting for 
this purpose. 

Four varieties of unpoisoned arrows are also used for 
birds. These may be conveniently described in pairs. The 
first pair are those used chiefly by the savannah Indians. Of 
these, one has a round tapering wooden point, often five or 
six inches in length, armed with several notches (Fig. 14 7i, 
p. 243) ; this, when shot with force, will penetrate through 
even the largest bird found in the forests of G-uiana. The 
second, used for smaller birds, differs only in that four small 
slips of wood are fastened, cross-wise, round the point, at a 
distance of about a quarter of an inch from the sharp end 
(Fig. 14 0, p. 243) ; these prevent the arrow from entering 
too far into the bird. 

The second pair differ from each other but slightly, and 
are used respectively by the Arawaks and the True Caribs 
(Fig. 14 Z, m, p. 243). Both end not in a point of any sort, 
but in a large wooden knob. The Creole children on the coast 



imitate these arrows by fixing aii empty cotton-reel at the 
end of the shaft of an ordinary arrow, and the imitation is 
very close. These arrows are intended to knock birds down, 
not by entering and wounding them, but by stunning them. 
The slight diflference between the two forms used by the 
Arawaks and True Caribs respectively is merely in the form 
of the fore-shaft and the blunt head.^ 

The blow-pipe is, I believe, peculiar among the Indians 
of Gruiana to the savannah tribes, and on the rare occasions 
in which it is found in the possession of the forest tribes, 
the fact is probably only due to the chance acquisition of the 
weapon by some idiosyncratic Indian. It is, however, conmion 
to many other tribes of South America. The Macusis, Are- 
cunas, and other savannah tribes of the Carib family probably 
found the weapon in use among the tribes formerly inhabiting 
the territory now occupied by them, and themselves adopted 
it; while the True Caribs and Ackawoi, the coast tribes of 
the Carib family, with the Warraus and Arawaks, having been 
but little in the interior, were not brought in contact with 
the original users of this weapon, and so never adopted it. 

> The following list of the yarious arrows — some of which occur in 
several slight yarieties — which are used in so small a district as British 
Guiana, may not be without interest to the ethnologist. 














with looM head 

with fixed head 

with three prongs 

(with loose head) 
attached by long \ 
string to shaft ) 

spear-headed iron 


of ) 


Small fish 



( lanoe-head 

1 bamboo . f 

poisoned (fixed head) 

„ (loose head) Monkeys 
r nnpoisoned ) 

1 wooden point ) 
„ (with gufud) 
with blunt head 





and birds 

Small birds 

Used by 


True Caribs (only ?) 
All forest tribes 
Savannah tribes 
All tribes (?) 

All tribes 

Forest tribes 

True Caribs (now rare) 
Arecuna (now rare) 
Savannah tribes 

Horrapoona' (Carib) ^ 
Sawoto (Carib) 
Atoom (Arawak ?) 
Takooya (Carib) 
Bamoroo (Carib) 
Sarapa (Arawak ?) 
Pooya (Carib) 
Waibacsah (Arawak ?) 
Tefoklng (Carib?)' 
Sebrali (Wapiana ?) * 
Siparara (Arawak ?) * 



II ti 

f Forest & savannah 
I tribes 
Savannah tribes 
True Caribs 

Rappoo (Garib) 
Onrali-eboo (Osrib) 



Tamu (Maonsi) 

Toommaral (Macnsl) 
Marowa (Arawak) 


* The name is evidently European. 

I am Inclined to think that distinct varieties of tliis arrow exist 
I the tefoking and the sebnili are not quite the same. 

under different names ; 


These blow-pipea (Fig. 16) are tubes of very great length, 
often from 12 to 16 feet or more, through which a small dart 
(Fig. 25, p. 302) is blown. The manner of manu&cture of 
both tube and dart will be afterwards explained. When set- 
ting out to shoot with this weapon, the Indian takes not only 
the tube, but also a quiver (Fig. 15^) containing a laige 
number of darts — sharply pointed splinters of wood, five or 
six inches in length, each tipped with oorali — and the jaw- 

QinvKtt ron Darts of Biow.pipk. 

bone of a perai-fish (Fig. 15 c) (Seraaalmo nigra), and rfso 
a small basket (Fig. 15 s) filled with the natural fibre of 
cotton or of some other plant. The fibre of the Bilk-cotton 
tree {Eriodemiron) is often used for this purpose. When 
game is seen, one of the darts is placed between two of 
the sharp teeth of the perai, and is twisted sharply round 
in such a way that a very small portion of the point is 
almost, but not quite severed from the main part; this is 
in order that the point may break off in the body of the 
animal, that the dart may again be used. A little of the 
fibre is then wound round the other end of the dart — i.e. 
the dart is 'feathered' — care being taken not to destroy 
the balance. The dart is then inserted in the blow-^pe. 



aim is taken, the dart is blown, and the bird 
ahnost invariably falls. The certainty with which 
an Indian can take aim with these hugely long 
weapons, even when supported by only one hand, 
is really wonderfiil. The range of the weapon 
is as much as from forty to fifty feet. 

For its special purpose the blow-pipe is much 
superior to the gim. The best way of getting a 
heavy bag of birds with it is to find some tree 
the fruit of which is attracting large numbers of 
birds to feed. If the birds sought are parrots, 
it is especially easy for an Indian with a practised 
ear to discover such a tree. As he walks through 
the forest he hears a sound like the £ei11 of heavy 
rain-drops. Parrots feed in a very wasteful way ; 
the flock flies screaming to a tree, and then each 
bird silently begins to pick the fruit, and after once 
biting each fruit lets it fiiU. Thus a constant 
shower of the fruit falls from the tree on to the * 
dry leaves on the ground. In this way, though S 
they do not scream while actually feeding, parrots 
betray their presence. The Indian, as soon as' 
he hears this sound, creeps stealthily up to the 
tree, and aims his blow-pipe at the bird lowest on 
the tree. When this falls the rest of the flock 
are not much alarmed ; seeing one of their num- 
ber suddenly disappear, they perhaps cease feed- 
ing for an instant and chatter, but, hearing no 
noise, they turn again to the fruit. In this way 
the Indian can bring down a very large number 
of birds before the flock is really alarmed, and, 
rising, flies screaming away ; whereas with bow 
and arrow he could, owing to the twang of the 
bowstring, get but few shots, and with a gun he 
could get but one. 

Much of the Indians' success in killing both 
birds and beasts is due to their wonderful skill in 


calling birds — in imitating, that is, the note of any bird which 
they think may be in the neighbourhood, and so attracting 
them to their destruction. The Indian name for a bird is 
almost always an imitation of its cry. This Indian habit of 
mimicry was well illustrated oh one occasion, when two of 
my Indians started firom our camp in two directions to shoot 
a maam {Ti7uvniu8\ neither knowing that the other was 
going. Presently one, hearing the cry of a maam some dis- 
tance on his right, began to imitate it to draw the bird 
nearer. The other heard a maam cry on his left, and he 
too began to imitate it. Each mistook the cry of the other 
for that of a real bird, and the two continued calling each 
other and drawing nearer through the thick bush, tmtil 
they met ; each, thinking that he was just about to see his 
bird, found the other had mimicked the cry of the maam only 
too well. They came back to camp in very bad temper. 

From what has been said it will be sufficiently evident 
that the objects for which the Indian hunts or fishes are many 
and various ; and it is very rarely that he is unsuccessful. It 
is, however, noticeable that the Indian can generally hunt suc- 
cessfully only in a district which he knows, and that Indians 
in travelling through a strange country seldom attempt to 
hunt, and when they do, meet with but small success. As 
the provisions which he thus gets have to be carried home, 
often a journey of some days, and as even after that they have 
to last for some time, the meat and most of the fish is smoked 
or babracoted ; the rest of the fish is salted, as has already been 
described in the case of the pacu shot in the falls. A babra- 
cot is a stage of green sticks, built over a fire, on which the 
meat is laid and exposed for a long time to the action of the 
smoke. Meat, fish, and even eggs treated in this way be^ 
come very tasteless, but retain their nutritive powerg for a 
long while, and may either be eaten without further prepara- 
tion or may be further cooked. 

Land tortoises being very common in the forest, the Indian 
collects these, slings them with a piece of bush-rope across his 
shoulders, and so carries them home alive. Sometimes also 


he carries with him one or two of the round, porcelain-like 
eggs of these tortoises. In the open savannah country, where 
such a signal may be seen from a long distance, the hunters, 
when yet far from home, make a big fire, as a signal to 
announce their coming to their women-kind at home, that 
due preparation in the shape of a large amount of bread and 
drink may be prepared. At last they arrive at home, deliver 
over the meat into the hands of the women, and sink into 
their hammocks to rest for several days. 




An Indian Field — Method of Goltiyation — Cassava — Abandonment of 
Field — Maize in the Mountains — Drooght and Famine. 

The Indians living in the forest use the clearings in which 
their houses stand as chief provision fields ; but even they 
jfenerally have one or more other fields at favourable spots in 
the neighbouring forest. The fields of the savannah Indians 
are, on the contrary, almost invariably at some considerable 
distance, often indeed very far firom their houses ; for the 
ground round the houses is unshaded, stony, and improduc- 
tive, and it is only in the moist and shady coppices that 
provisions flourish. 

One only uses the word * field ' of the spots cultivated 
by the Indians in default of a more apt term. A stranger on 
first seeing an Indian field, with its surrounding wall of 
natural forest, might well think it a place no longer culti- 
vated, but some former clearing in the forest in which the 
natural growth had once more sprung up unchecked. The 
cassava and other cultivated plants are lost among the bushy 
off-shoots which have sprimg firom the stumps of felled trees, 
the trunks and branches of which lie just where they fell 
among the tangled growth. The bark has fallen firom some 
of these tnmks, and their white wood glistens in the sun ; 
others are blackened and charred by fire ; others again have 
retained their bark, as on the day they fell. Often, among 
all this, it is almost impossible to discern the narrow foot- 
trodden track which, winding in and out among the fiedlen 
trunks and the cassava plants, leads through the field. 

This is how the field was made. A fitting place having 


been chosen — cassava, the main object of cultivation, flon- 
rishes best in sandy soil — the men cut down the under- 
growth and fell the trees. Then, when it seems likely that 
the weather will be dry, they set fire to the fallen refuse. 
The leaves and smaller branches of the trees, together with 
the cut and now withered undergrowth, slowly bum; but 
the tree-trunks and the larger branches are only more or less 
<;harred. The fire smoulders long, often for many days ; and 
when at last it dies out, there is an open space in the forest, 
floored with hot white ashes, and empty but for prostrate 
trunks, the crooked branches of which stand up into the air, 
and but for any palms which may have been there — for these 
are always allowed to stand if they are of a kind with edible 
fruit. The men have now finished their share of the work. 

At the beginning of the following wet season the women 
come, guarded, if the field is far firom home, against sudden 
attacks of jaguars or snakes by a few wretchedly lean dogs, 
and carrying on their backs baskets heavy with a load of 
cassava sticks to be used as cuttings. Here and there, at 
somewhat Irregular intervals, they loosen small patches of 
the soil, hardly more than a foot in diameter, and in each of 
these they insert three or four cassava sticks. The field is 
then virtually formed. 

From time to time, while the cassava is growing, the 
women do just so much weeding as is absolutely necessary to 
prevent the cultivated plants from being choked by the wild 
growths which spring up side by side with them ; and while 
so doing, pine-tops, banana, and plaintain suckers, pumpkin 
and water-melon seeds, yams, sweet potatoes, sugar-cane, 
papaws, cashews, tobacco, and, above all, red and yellow 
podded peppers {Capsicurria) are planted wherever there is 

During the ten months which generally pass before the 
cassava reaches maturity, not only shoots from the wild 
plants which formerly occupied the ground, but also those 
creepers and other plants which in this, even more than in 
most other climates, are never seen while the land is left in 


a natural state, but always appear wherever man makes a 
clearing, spring up with new and surprising vigour. Of 
these weeds which infest Indian fields, first the razor-grass 
{Sderia acmdena) throws its endless stems and grass-like 
leaves, stems and leaves alike as keenly edged as knives, 
over the cassava and other plants, and then, having overrun 
the clearing, flings itself up on to the trees which edge the 
surrounding forest and, finding no yet higher thing to which to 
reach, hangs its tangled ends like a curtain from branch and 
bush. Passion-flowers send out long tendrils, which creep 
along the ground and up on to the bushes, where they hang 
their flowers, according to their kind, some large and pur- 
ple, others crimson, others white {Paasiflora laurifolia)^ 
and one (P. fcetida) the small pale-coloured petals of which,, 
buried in large moss-like green sepals, remind one of a 
flower common in old-fashioned English gardens, called 
with quaint variety * Love-in-a-mist ' and * Devil-in-a-bush ^ 
{Nigella damascena). Various kinds of pea-flowers and con-^ 
volvulus add to the confusion. Before long, the hollow and 
straight stems of the trumpet-wood {Oecropia peltata), each 
crowned with a single rosette of a few big maple-shaped 
leaves, rise over everything, and with marvellous rapidity* 
reach a height of from twenty to thirty feet. 

At last, in the ninth or tenth month, seeds appear among 
the hemp-like leaves at the ends of the straggling branches 
of the cassava plants. This is a sign that the roots are ready 
for use. Again the work is done by the women. They cut 
down the cassava and the weed-bush, and dig up the roots,, 
not all at once, but as they are required. Some short straight 
lengths of the stems of the cassava — sufficient to reproduce 
the number of plants which have been dug up— are cut and 
inserted in the ground as before, and in the same spots. By 
the way, an old Indian tradition tells that when cassava was 
first given to the Indians, after their first appearance upon 
earth, they knew not how to make it reproduce itself; when 
they tried to sow the seeds or to plant the tubers, it al- 
ways failed to grow ; but, just as the stock was dying out,. 


it was discovered by chance that cuttings of the plants if 
£tuck into the ground, grew. So this method of propagation 
has been followed ever since. 

The field is deserted after three or four crops have been 
taken from it; and a new clearing is made and planted. 
The reason of this periodical desertion of the old, and clear- 
ing of new ground is uncertain, but it is perhaps connected 
with some superstition. But so little trouble is, indeed, in- 
volved in this sort of cultivation, that a field is often deserted 
in consequence of a mere whim, often before even the first 
crop has been gathered. In one instance, a very flourishing 
field of cassava in the Ganakoo Mountains had been deserted, 
its owners refusing even to approach it, because kenaimafi 
— ^mysterious murderers, half human, half supernatural — 
had been heard near it. 

The produce of these fields is of the finest quality. This 
is especially the case in the Pacaraima and Ganakoo Moun- 
tains, and generally on the savannah, where the plantains 
and the sugar-canes especially attain a size far greater than 
in the coast lands. In the sandstone mountains about 
Boraima maize is more abundantly cultivated than cassava, 
the Indians affirming that the latter plant does not flourish 
well in that district. 

As the life and prosperity of the Indians depend so much 
on the produce of their fields, it may not be without interest 
to tell what becomes of these people when their crops fail. 
This happens, sometimes, owing to the improvidence of the 
Indians, who use their cassava freely, so long as it lasts, not 
only for making bread but even for making paiwari, without 
any regard to the quantity left ; sometimes in consequence 
of prolonged drought. 

The failure from the first of these two causes is met by 
the habit of mutual hospitality which prevails among the 
Indians. When a family finds its stock of cassava Ex- 
hausted, the goods are packed up, and all walk to some other 
settlement, inhabited by Indians of the same tribe in whose 
fields there is still plenty. Without invitation, and without 


excuses, the strangers take up their quarters in the new 
settlement, where, as a matter of course, there is a stranger's 
house ; and it is an understood thing that the present hosts 
will return the visit when they have need ; and there they 
live and eat as long as the cassava lasts, or until some one of 
their own fields is again ripe. 

Failure of the crops owing to long-continued drought is 
far worse in its eflfects. A very severe famine of this sort 
prevailed in March and April of 1878 throughout the greater 
part of the savannah region, where the eflfects of dry weather 
are of course far worse than in the damp forest. Gradually 
the cassava and provisions failed, and the young crops made 
no advance or even died. Even the hardy savannah plants 
were withered up and burned. The famine was very great. 
Most of the settlements and villages were entirely deserted, 
their inhabitants having wandered away into some damper 
and more favoured part of the country. Those who remained 
—chiefly the women who were too old to walk fiir, the sick, 
and here and there a family who were inclined to trust to 
chance — were reduced to skeletons. 




Cooking done by Women — Fire-making — Staple Food: Meat chiefly in 
form of Pepper-pot ; Cassava as Bread, Farine, and Paiwari — Effect of 
Cassava on Indian Physique — Salt — Occasional Food : Eggs, of Birds, 
seldom eaten ; of Reptiles, often ; Insects ; Fruits— Various Drinks. 

T^E staple food of Indians includes both animal and vegetable 
substances. The men provide the fonner by hunting and 
fishing; while the women, almost unassisted, provide the 
latter. As the pursuit of game generally leads the men for 
several days' journey from home, and as the booty must be 
at least roughly preserved on the spot, this preliminary 
operation, by smoking the meat on a babracot or by salting 
the fish, is done by the hunters. These rough processes, 
which are not the final cooking of the meat, but are only 
meant to preserve it till it can be handed over to the women 
at home, have been described in connection with the methods 
of hunting. As regards the meat which the Indian con- 
sumes during these excursions, when he is naturally without 
cooking utensils, the method of preparing this is extremely 
simple. The meat is indeed often eaten just in the half- 
roasted, half-smoked state in which it is taken off the babra- 
cot ; or, at most, it is cut into small fragments, which are 
fastened into a cleft stick and so held or &,stened over the 
fire until they are roasted. All other cooking, not only of 
the dried meat brought home and of meat procured near 
enough to the settlement to be cooked while fresh, but also 
of bread, the only staple vegetable consumed, is done by the 
women. If by some chance a man is obliged to cook, ex- 
cept so far as is absolutely necessary on an ordinary hunting i 


excursion, and is seen to do so by some other Indian, he feels 
as much shame as if he had been caught in some unworthy 
act. For- example, on one occasion when we were forced by 
famine to take cassava roots from an Indian field which we 
found ownerless, it was with great difficulty that any of my 
Indian companions, who were all men, were persuaded to 
make these roots into bread, and those who at last did this 
were ever after scornfully pointed at as * old women.' In 
now discussing the preparation of food, it must be remem- 
bered that this, when done at home and under normal con- 
ditions, is wholly women's work. 

Cooking is perhaps the most frequent occupation of these 
women, Indians eat not at regular times, but whenever 
and as often as they feel inclined. Fortunately for the 
women, no variety of food is demanded. Except on rare oc- 
casions, when a very large store of meat has been obtained, 
pepper-pot and cassava-bread invariably form the meal. All 
the meat or fish obtained is put, with cassareep an.d peppers, 
into a buck-pot and boiled to a thick soup. This pot is 
never emptied, but more meat is added whenever necessary. 
This mess is boiled again and again, and is ready for use at 
a few minutes' notice. A store of cassava-bread is also at 
hand whenever required ; for large quantities are made at 
each baking. Whenever the men feel hungry, the women 
bring the pepper-pot, with some cassava on one of the fans 
which are used for blowing the fire, to the side of the ham- 
mock. The men often do not trouble themselves to get out 
of their hammocks, but simply lean over the sides to eat ; at 
other times they get up and sit on one of the low wooden 
stools or on one of the turtle-shells which lie about the floor ; 
or they squat before their food with their kne6s drawn up 
almost to their heads in the invariable sitting posture of an 
Indian. The bread having been dipped into the mess in the 
pot, the sodden piece is bitten oflF. Very little is eaten at a 
time ; and when the meal is over, the men roll back into their 
hammocks, and the women fetch away the remains of the 
food. The women never eat with the men ; indeed, as often 


as not the former take their food out of the pot, while cook- 

First, a word must be said as to the making of fire. Fire 
has very seldom to be made afresh ; for it is continually kept 
burning in every house, and even on long canoe-journeys a 
large piece of smouldering timber is usually carried. Even 
when walking across the savannah an Indian sometimes carries 
a firebrand. But sometimes, especially during hunting ex- 
cursions, it becomes absolutely necessary to make a new fire. 
This is done either with flint and steel, or rather with jasper 
and an old knife, or — and there is every reason to believe 
that this is the original Indian fashion — by firiction of two 
pieces of wood. 

It is a well-known fact whjch has attracted much interest 
and notice, that uncivilised people all over the world have 
been, or are still, in the habit of producing fire by the friction 
of two pieces of wood.* Several difierent kinds of wood are 
used, but all these have some special fitness for the purpose. 
That used by the Macusis appears to be firom a species of 
ApeibaJ^ That used by the Warraus is cut either firom a plant 
called by them Toamo {Oaultheria uregon, Aublet), or from 
the * bone ' (mid-rib) of the troolie-palm {Manicaria aacd- 
/era) J or from the Tari-Tari, or Lancewood tree, or from at 
least one other tree of unknown name. Two long thin 
sticks of one of these, when thoroughly dried, are used in 
the operation. A small pit is dug on the side of one of 
the sticks close to one end ; and a groove is cut from this pit 
half-way round the stick (Fig 17, A, p. 258). One end of 
the second stick having been cut evenly at right angles to 
the length of the stick, a few inches at the same end are 
peeled (Fig. 17, b). A knife or flat piece of wood or stone 

' Much has been written aboat the sonrce from which men first obtained 
fire ; and it has been suggested that the first fire originated in the natural 
friction of two boughs of trees robbing against each other in a high wind. 
It is worth mentioning that the West Indian negroes affirm that bamboo 
stems do often thus make natural fire ; and if anyone will carefully watch 
a big clump of bamboos in the tropics during a high wind, he will under- 
stand that if any plants can really thus cause fire, it is these. 

' Schomburgk, Heiien in BriUich Chtiana. 




18 now placed on the ground. Across this the first stick 
is laid so that the pit is uppermost and immediately over 
the blade of the knife. The Indian then grasps this stick 
with the toes — always very prehensile— of one foot, and thus 
holds it steadily in position. The second stick is held at 
right angles to the first, the peeled end being in the pit, 
the other end between the palms of the operator's hands. 
The left hand being held motionless, the right palm is rubbed 

Pia. 17. 

Fire-sticks, a and b, and MfTuuD or uaiNo thk Sams, e. 

steadily and somewhat rapidly backwards and forwards against 
the left (Fig. 17, e). This of course twirls the upright stick 
rapidly round and round in the pit of the other. The fric- 
tion wears away the sides of the pit and enlarges it. The 
groove which passes half round the stick, consequently be- 
comes an open channel through which the dust-like frag- 
ments worn away from the inside of the pit fall on to the 
knife or board below, where they form a small heap. After 
about a quarter of a minute, smoke arises ; and at the end of 
half a minute the heat within the pit, acting through the 


open channel, ignites the little heap of dust. The fire, once 
ignited, smoulders for about half a minute, during which time 
it is easily blown into a flame. No great exertion is required 
in the operation. 

These particular woods are chosen for the purpose by the 
Warraus because of their peculiarly friable grain. The Apeiba 
wood used by the Macusis makes but little of this inflammable 
dust, so that tinder has to be placed under the stick to catch 
the fire. The beauty of the Warrau operation consists in the 
fact that the tinder is formed by the wood itself. 

When travelling, the second stick — that which is held 
upright in the hand — is kept unpeeled ; and each time that 
it is used only so much is peeled as is necessary for the 
operation. In this way it is always dry and in a fit state for 

Even when the spark has been procured, it is difiicult, if 
much rain has lately fallen, to find wood dry enough to make 
a fire. Under such circumstances the patience of the Indian 
overcomes the difiiculty. He collects fallen wood and care- 
fully strips oflF with his knife the outer parts of this until he 
obtains so much of the heartwood (often very little indeed) 
as is dry. Eound the fire thus laboriously made he heaps 
other wood, and this in time becomes dry and is added as 
fuel to the fire. Instead of bellows a fan of definite- shape, 
woven of the young leaflets of a palm (^Aatrocaryum 
tucumoidea) is used. 

Except the flesh of animals introduced by Europeans, 
which are always considered unclean, and a very few tabooed 
indigenous animals, which — diflferent kinds by different 
tribes — ^are also considered unclean, all mammals, birda, and 
fish are meat to the Indian. There is, if we disregard for a 
moment the rougher method of cooking employed by men 

' It may not be iwinterestiiig to add that, having brought to England 
' sticks which have actually produced fire in Guiana, I utterly foiled to rub 
fire with these here. I believe a similar experience has fallen to the lot 
of other travellers. Mr. Tjlor tells me that the Zulus lately exhibited in 
London succeeded in rubbing fire, but that the operation took considerably 
longer than it does in Zululand. 

8 2 


when away from home or without a cooking utensil, but one 
way of cooking this — whether it is stiU fresh or has been pre- 
viously smoked, whether it is meat or fish — and that is, by 
boiling it down into a sort of thick soup, with peppers 
(chilis) and cassareep. The nature of this last ingredient 
will be explained presently ; at present all that need be said 
is, that it reduces all flesh to one common flavour, its own, 
and that it has antiseptic qualities which keep meat boiled in 
it good for a long time. The result of this method of cook- 
ing meat is the far-£Euned pepper-pot, which, first made by 
the Indians, all settlers in the West Indies have now learned 
to make and like. The one proper Indian meat dish is 
therefore pepperpot. 

The one staple vegetable food of the Indians is afforded 
by the roots of the cassava-plant {Mq,nihotutiMs8ima\ which 
are made into bread, like oatcakes, by most of the tribes ; into 
fjEkrine, a rough sort of meal, by others. No scene is more 
characteristic of Indian life than that of the women prepar- 
ing cassava. 

One woman, squatting on her hams, and armed with a 
big knife, peels off the skin of the cassava roots which lie in 
a heap at her side. Each root, after being peeled, is washed 
and then thrown on to a new heap. A little way off, another 
woman stands and, grasping one of the peeled roots with both 
hands, scrapes it up and down an oblong board or grater 
studded with small fragments of stone, and so roughened, 
like a nutmeg-grater. One end of the grater stands in a 
trough on the ground, the other rests against the woman's 
knees. It is violent exercise. As the woman scrapes, her 
body swings down and up again from her hips. The rhythmic 
* swish • caused by the scraping of the juicy root is the chief 
sound in the house ; for the labour is too heavy to permit of 
talking. The cassava, which slips as pulp from the scraper 
into the trough, is collected and put into a long wicker-woven 
matapie, which hangs from the roof. This matapie or cassava- 
squeezer (Fig. 18), is in principle exactly like the not un- 
common toy known as a ^ Siamese Link.' It is a cylinder. 


seven or eight feet long aod five or six inches in diameter, made 
of closely woven etripa of pliant bark. The uiq>er end ia 
open, and has a loop by which the matapie may be suspended 
from one of the beams of the house ; the lower end is 
closed, but it also has a loop, the use of which p,, ,^ 
will presently appear. The cassava, saturated with 
its highly poisonous juice, is now forced into the 
matapie ; through the loop at the bottom of this, 
a heavy pole is passed, one end of which is allowed 
to rest on the ground and is there fastened by 
means of a heavy stone or some such device, 
while the other is raised into the air. A woman 
now flits on the raised end of the pole, and her 
weight stretches the matapie downwards. In 
proportion as the length of the cylinder in- 
creases its diameter is of course reduced. The 
pressure thus applied to the cassava pulp im- 
mediately forces the poisonous juice out through 
the walla of the matapie. The juice drops down 
into a buck-pot which stands on the ground ; and 
it is this which when it is afterwards boiled be- 
comes cassareep, a thick, treacle-like liquid, which 
is no longer poisonous, and the use of which in 
the manufacture of pepper-pot has already been 
described. Cassareep when but slightly boiled is 
sometimes eaten by itself and without further 
preparation ; but if it is meant for pepper-pot it 
may either be used at once, or, if boiled to a 
high degree of density, not for some considerable 
time. The cassava, now dry and free from juice, 
is taken from the matapie, broken into a sieve 
(Fig. 20, p. 279), and sifted, so that it becomes sql-uzie. 
a coarse flour. This is either wrapped in leaves 
and put away for future use, or ia at once made into bread. 

A large circular iron griddle or plate, of European manu- 
facture, is now placed over the fire ; by some of the remote 
Indians a fiat slab of stone ia uaed for this purpose, and there 


can be little doubt that this stone was originally universally 
used. On the griddle, whatever its material, a thin layer of 
the meal is spread. A woman, fan in hand, sits by the fire, 
watching. With her fan she smooths the upper surface of the 
cake, and makes its edges round. In a very few minutes 
one side of the large round white cake is done ; and when 
it has been turned, in yet a couple of minutes the bread 
is ready. When a suflScient number of these oatcake-like 
pieces of bread have been made, they are taken out of the 
house and thrown up on to the roof to dry in the sun. I 
have often admired, and vainly tried to imitate, the skill with 
which an Indian woman * quoits ' up these large and thin 
cakes (which, until they are well sun-dried, are limp and 
flabby) on to the roof, often high above her head. When 
thoroughly sun-dried the bread is hard and crisp, with a 
flavour like that of freshly gathered nuts ; in this state, if 
guarded from damp, it will keep for an indefinite time. 

Not quite all the cassava meal, freed from juice by means 
of the matapie, passes through the sifter — a small residue, 
consisting of the more starchy matter, adheres together in 
particles too large to pass through the close- woven wicker- 
work. This coarse starchy residue, called by the Caribs EraoOy 
which is always small in quantity, is at once made into a cake, 
which differs from the ordinary cake made of the sifted meal 
in that, if eaten at once, it has a half-gelatinous consistency, 
and a pleasant sub-acid flavour ; while, if it is allowed to 
become cold, it acquires a leathery consistency, and is taste- 
less and uneatable. 

Some of the True Caribs slightly diverge from this method 
of making bread in that they pound the meal in a mortar 
before sifting it, and, if it is to be kept, they slightly smoke 
it. The bread thus produced is much more friable and much 
more easily digestible than that made by the ordinary 

When cassava is very scarce, its bulk is sometimes 
increased by mixing the chopped leaves of the cassava plant, 
or the pounded seed of the mora tree {Mora exceUa), or of 


the greenheart tree {Nectandra Rodioei\ or even pounded 
rotten wood, with the meal. 

Sometimes, especially by the Arecunas, cakes like those of 
cassava ate made of maize. 

The cassava root is eaten chiefly in the form of bread by 
all the tribes except the Wapianas, Atorais, and Tarumas. 
Thesfe latter tribes make most of their cassava into farine. 
It is to be noticed that these tribes live on the frontiers of 
Brazil, and that this form of bread-stuff is almost universal 
throughout that country. Up to a certain point the cassava 
is prepared as for bread. The difference is in the baking, 
for instead of being allowed to consolidate into an entire 
cake, the cassava meal is kept continually stirred as it rests on 
the iron griddle, so that in drying it assumes the form of an 
accumulation of small dry crumbs of wheaten bread. 

Much cassava, after being made into bread, is further 
titinsformed into paiwari, the chief Indian beverage. As- 
tounding quantities of this are consumed at special drinking 
bouts, of which we shall hear more presently. But paiwari 
is also largely used at other times ; and indeed as long as 
there is any cassava to be had, a stock of this liquor is 
always kept ready. Whenever the men return from hunt- 
ing, and whenever a stranger comes into the house, it is 
drunk. And the women and children — even the youngest 
babies — drink it. 

Cassava bread which is to be transformed into paiwari, 
is made as is that for other purposes ; but it is thicker, and 
is baked, or rather burned, until it is quite black. It is 
then broken into small fragments, and mixed with water in 
a large jar or pot. The larger fragments are picked out and 
chewed by the women, who do this work ^hile moving about 
and performing their usual household work ; and the chewed 
masses are again replaced in the jar. As soon as this jar is 
sufficiently filled, its contents, after being well stirred, are 
slightly boiled, and are then poured into the trough. More 
and more is added to the liquor in the trough until it is full. 
The mixture is then allowed to stand for some days, until it 


i» gnfficiently fermented — a process which is said to be mnch 
accelerated by the mastication of the bread.' Sometimes a 
little juice of the sngar-cane is added to sweeten the liquor. 
The result is a brownish liquor — looking like coffee with a 
great deal of milk in it — ^with a sub-acid, but not unpleasant 
taste. Some of the True Caribs, it is said, and some of the 
Brazilian tribes, manage to prepare paiwari, and to procure 
a proper degree of fermentation, by simple IxHling, without 
resorting to the very disagreeable but more orthodox chewing 
process ; but paiwari produced in this way is said to be of 
very inferior flavour. 

In some parts of the country, instead of paiwari, both 
for festivals and for ordinary occasions, a much pleasant er 
drink is used. This is casiri, which is made of sweet- 
potatoes and sugar-cane. A little cassava is sometimes 
added. Generally, though not always, it is prepared simply 
by boiling the ingredients, and allowing them to ferment. 
It has a pretty pink colour, due to the sweet-potatoes ; and 
when well made it tastes not unlike thin claret. 

To the large proportion which cassava, in the form of 
bread, or farine, and of paiwari, bears to the rest of the food 
of the Indians, are probably due two very marked physical 
peculiarities of these people. Even at first sight, nothing is 
more striking in the appearance of the Indians than the 
extraordinary protuberance of their stomachs ; and after only 
brief companionship with them, the European is struck by 
the rapidity with which Indians — usually so sleek and 
fat — lose flesh and strength when cassava fails, and as sud- 
denly regain these when circumstances become more favour- 
able. Cassava seems to have a great tendency to extend 
the paunch, and to puff out the flesh and make the whole 
body look fat and round, without giving any real stamina ; 
and as soon as it fails, even for a few days, the paunch hangs 

* It must be noted that paiwari differs essentially from the khava of the 
South Sea Islanders, with which it has sometimes been identified, in that» 
though the operation of chewing is performed in both cases, paiwari is neyer 
drunk until it has fermented, whereas khava is not a fermented liquor. 


like an empty sack, and, the fat disappearing, the skin hangs 
in falds, and every bone in the body becomes prominent. 

Before turning from the subject of the regular food 
supply of the Indians, a word must be said as to the salt 
which almost invariably forms part of it. Indians are ex- 
tremely fond of salt, and large quantities of this substance — 
procured originally from the English on our own coast, or 
from the Brazilians — are passed from owner to owner as a 
highly valued article of barter. Moreover, in the Wapiana 
country salt of a very pungent quality occurs naturally on 
the savannah ; and this is carefully collected, and used or 
bartered by the Indians of that district. Salt, however 
procured, always forms an ingredient in pepper-pot, though 
never in bread. It is also largely eaten by itself, just as an 
English child eats sugar. 

But beside these regular food articles — bread, meat, and 
salt — there are many others which are occasionally procured, 
and are regarded either as delicacies, or are eaten when the 
regular supplies fail. Most of these are either eggs, insects, 
or fruits. 

It is rather curious that birds' eggs are seldom eaten. 
The fact that the eggs of the ordinary domestic poultry, 
which generally abound in every Indian settlement, are not 
eaten, is simply another manifestation of the habit of regard- 
ing all introduced animals as unfit for food ; but it might 
have been supposed that the eggs of indigenous wild birds, 
-especially of the many kinds of game-birds, would have been 
eagerly sought as food ; but this is rarely the case. On the 
6ther hand, the eggs of certain reptiles are largely consumed 
and appreciated. When, twice a year, the turtles and the 
f iguana-lizards lay their eggs on the sandbanks in the rivers, 
large parties of Indians gather from all quarters, not only 
living upon the eggs for a time, but also smoking and drying 
others, for future use. Sometimes I have seen an Indian 
canoe weighed almost down to the edge of the water by its 
load of turtle- or iguana-eggs. Tortoise-eggs are much less 
commonly found ; but these too are readily eaten. Moreover, 

• t 


in a previous chapter I have told how the True Oaribs boil 
and greedily eat the musk-flavoured eggs of the cayman and 
alligator; on the other hand, this last habit is regarded 
with disgust by members of most other tribes. 

Of insects, true ants and white ants (jTerT^ea), grass- 
hoppers, grubs of wasps and beietles, and caterpillars, are 
eaten. When, at the beginning of the rainy season, the 
winged individuals of the colonies of white ants leave their 
nests, the Indians make large fires at evenings and the insects, 
attracted by the light, swarm round, scorch their wings, and ^ 
fall like rain to the ground, from which they are swept up 
by the Indians, and are eaten in handfuls. The winged in- 
dividuals of true ants, especially of the common coushie 
(Ecodema cephalotea)^ are also gathered ii^ the same way. 
At other seasons of the year, if an Indian hankers after ant- 
meat, he pushes a sharply pointed stick into some nest of 
ant or termite, and then, withdrawing this, licks off the 
living insects which are sure to have crawled on to the in- 
truding wood. Possibly this trick has been learned from the 
ant-eaters {MyrTriecophaga), who gain their livelihood by in- 
serting their long slender tongues into such nests, and eating 
the antfi which adhere. The wingless individuals of a large 
black ant, of a kind unknown to me, but, I believe, a Poneray 
which become very prominent at times, are eaten in very 
unceremonious fashion: the living insect is held by the 
head, and its abdominal segment is bitten off. I once ven- 
tured to taste one of these latter delicacies, and found it to 
affect the palate very much as dry corn-husks probably 
would. Various grasshoppers, especially a beautiful scarlet 
and black kind, are also picked up and eaten without further 
preparation. Wasps'-nests are knocked down from the trees, 
and the grubs are picked out from the cells and eaten. Of 
beetle-grubs, apparently the only one commonly eaten is the 
great yellowish-white *gru-gru worm,' called tacooma by 
the Arawaks, ewoi by the Carib tribes, which, disgusting as 
it is in appearance, is also eaten, and even regarded as a 
great delicacy, not only by the negroes, but also by Euro- 


pean colonists. It is the grub of a beetle {CcUandra pal- 
marum) * Vjery destructive t.o palm-trees, in the heartwood of 
which it lives.* Caterpillars are apparently not ordinarily 
eaten ; but in times of famine the smooth-skinned kinds are 
collected, boiled, and used as food. 

Of fruits, thiDse of various palms are most largely used. 
The fleshy. covering rtmnd the seeds of the cokerite {Mood' 
TnUiaTia regia)y and ^of several species of Aatrocaryum is 
scraped off and eaten ; and even after that the kernels of the 
• former kind of palm are eaten. The cokerite seeds, called 
mareepa by the Carib tribes, sometimes, indeed, during 
famines, form almost the sole food of the Indians ; and at 
such times they are boiled before eaten, in order that their 
bulk may be increased. The fleshy covering round the 
seeds of the aeta palm {Mauritia flexuosa) is also eaten, 
being first scraped off and pressed into a sort of cake, in 
which condition it tastes something like strong rancid cheese. 
These are all wild palms. The Arawaks, and a few other 
Indians on the coast region, often have a plant or two of the 
famous peach-palm {Ouilielma spedosd) growing near their 
houses, though this is not indigenous, nor do the Indians 
now know whence it came. The soft seeds of this, which 
grow in large bunches, are boiled and eaten as we eat 

A few other wild fruits are eaten, such as the plum-like 
fruit of the bullet-tree (^Mimusopa halata\ certain small 
guavas, called by the Caribs * billicoes,' which look and taste 
very like gooseberries, and which grow on bushes {Nigritia 
Schomburgkii) on many parts of the savannah, and the nut — 
the most delicately flavoured of all nuts — of the souari-tree 
(JPekea tuberculosa). 

Yams and sweet-potatoes, plantains and bananas, sugar- 
cane and maize, are grown and eaten by the Indians, but in 

1 See p. 146. 

' It is perhaps saggestiye that the Arawak name for the grub, tacooma^ 
is really identical with their name for the heartwood of any tree (tacooba) ; 
and the insect is possibly regarded as really part of the wood in which it 


no very large quantities ; moreover, these were, according to 
the Indians themselves, derived from Europeans. 

Lastly, various beverages, beside the paiwari and casiri 
which have been mentioned, are prepared. A kind of wine 
or toddy is procured from the aeta palm, though only where 
the tree is plentiful, for one is very unnecessarily sacrificed 
each time that this wine is to be procured; and, because these 
trees produce so many things valuable to the Indian, this is 
done reluctantly. After the tree has been cut, a large groove 
is made in that part of the trunk which lies uppermost, and 
this groove is covered over with loose leaves. In a few hours 
the sap of the tree collects in this trough, and is collected and 
drunk without further preparation. If this juice (called by 
the Macusis gwy^) is kept for a few days it ferments, and then 
forms a pleasant, wine-like drink which is not unlike thin 
sauteme. Another drink is made by boiling maize, crushing 
it, and allowing it to ferment in water. And the pleasantest 
of all is made simply by crushing the large and very juicy 
fruit of the wild cashew (Anacardium rkmocarpus)^ which 
has a strawberry-like flavour, in water. Wild honey, too, 
which is very abundant, is also mixed with water and drunk. 
Even in its natural state this honey differs frt>m that of Euro- 
pean bees in that it is not viscid, but almost as fluid as water, 
and has a sub-acid, highly fragrant taste. 

' The seta tree and the drink procured from it are alike called ffwy by 
the Macusis, teta by the Warraus. As re^rds this common name for 
various parts of the same thing qf. note 2, p. 267. 




General Considerations— Pottery — Basket-work— Spinning : Three kinds of 
Fibre ; two Methods of Spinning ; Explanation of Co-exist-ence of two 
Methods — Weaving: Hammock- weaving ; Rude Cloth- weaving — Boat- 
building — Bench-making — Weapon-making — Ornament-making — Mu- 
, sical Instrmnents — Poison-making — Preparation of Oils, Pitches, Dyes — 

No little ingenuity is displayed by the Indians in making 
their simple household utensils, weapons, and ornaments. 
Yet many of the arts practised by their ancestors, such a^ that 
of shaping stone into knives and for other purposes, Jiave dis- 
appeared already ; others, such as the making of bows and 
other weapons, are even now gradually, but rapidly, disap- 
pearing in consequence of an ever-increasing distribution of 
goods of Emx^ean manufacture throughout the interior. 

It has already been remarked that the life of the Indian 
man is made up of alternate fits of energy and of comparative 
inactivity ; during the former he hunts or prepares a plot of 
ground for the women to cultivate, while during the latter he 
lolls for days together in his hammock, occupied only in most 
leisurely manner in &8hioning weapons or ornaments. The 
amount of time spent in this latter way is very striking ; and 
it is at first sight still more striking that the Indian is ready 
to part with the articles which have cost him so much time 
for almost anything. It has again and again been pointed 
out that this inactivity and carelessness of time are not due 
to any blameworthy idleness. The Indian exerts himself to 
obtain all that he needs — ^food, a very moderate amount of 
clothing, a good deal of ornament, a shelter of no very elaborate 


kind from the weather, and weapons for defence or for hunting ; 
of the advantage to him of anything beyond these things he 
is ignorant, and he cannot therefore be blamed for not striving 
to obtain more. But the acquisition of these things occupies 
comparatively little of his time; and it is therefore Jiot 
laziness if he spends the rest of his life in dawdling. This is 
true not only of the Indians of Guiana, but also, as has fre- 
quently been pointed out, of savages generally. But there 
is another circumstance connected with the same subject of 
Indian industry which has, I think, attracted less notice. 
Wherever white men go among Indians — wherever, that is, we 
learn anything of the life of that people — goods manufactured 
by the white men soon pass into the hands of the red men. 
For example, in Guiana, the Indians instead of laboriously 
shaping stones, as their fathers did, into kpives, axes, and 
other cutting implements, now very easily procure substitutes 
for these implements from white men. Thus one former 
source of occupation has long been lost to the Indian. Again, 
at the present time, he is in the very act of relinquishing his 
bows and arrows and his blow-pipes, things the making of 
which occupied much of his time, in favour of European guns 
— guns which, being of the cheapest kind, he receives from 
the European in return for a very small amount of Jabour. 
Nor has any new industry been taught him to occupy the 
time thus 'set free. Thus the necessity* to the Indian to 
work to obtain all that he needs or desires is nbw much less 
than it was, and he has even more time than his fathers had 
that he cannot occupy. On the old and true principle that 
work is good for man, this fact, too, probably explains in some 
considerable degree the very common degeneration of savages 
in the presence of civilisation. 

And from another point of view these Indians' arts are 
interesting. There exists among the tribes of this, as of 
probably every other similar district, a rough system of dis- 
tribution of labour ; and this serves not only its immediate 
purpose of supplying all the tribes with better-made articles 
than each could make for itself, but also brings the different 


tribes together and spreads among them ideas and news of 
general interest. 

The startling rapidity with which news spreads through 
vast tracts in whicl^i there seems to be no organised system 
of communication, and in which civilisation is altogether 
wanting, has surprised travellers in all quarters of the world. 
If, for instance, an event, possibly quite trivial in itself, but 
yet of interest to the Indians, happens in any part of the in- 
terior of Guiana, news of it reaches even the most remote of 
the Indians with a rapidity almost as great, if not as certain, 
as could be achieved by the best system of postal communi- 
cation. Naturally, Indians of one tribe constantly visit each 
other, and these carry news of all that has passed in their 
own neighbourhood. It is more strange that news is as 
rapidly passed from tribe to tribe, however hostile the one 
may be to the other. The reason of this is to be found in 
the- system of division of labour^ which has arisen in quite a 
natural way. 

Each tribe has some manufacture peculiar to itself ; and 
its members constantly visit the other tribes, often hostile, 
for the purpose of exchanging the products of their own 
labour for such as are produced only by the other tribes. 
These trading Indians are allowed to pass unmolested through 
the enemy's country. When living among the Macusis, I 
was often amused by a number of those Indians rushing into 
my house, in the walls of which we had had windows pierced, 
who, with bated breath, half in joy, half in terror, used to 
point through ^he window to some party of their enemies, 
the Arecunas, coming with cotton-balls and blow-pipes for ex- 
change. It is these traders who carry with them the latest 

Of the tribes on the coast, the Warraus make far the best 
canoes and supply these to the neighbouring tribes. They 
also make hammocks of a peculiar kind, which are not, how- 
ever, much in request except among themselves. In the 
same way, far in the interior, the Wapianas build boats for 
all the tribes in that district. The Macusis have two special 


products which are in great demand amongst all the tribes. 
One is the ourali used for poisoning arrows and the darts, of 
blow-pipes, the other is an abundance of cotton hammocks — 
for, though these are now often made by the Wapianas and 
True Caiibs, the Macusis are the chief makers. The Arecimas 
grow, spin, and distribute most of the cotton wh^ Is used 
by the Macusis and others for hammocks and other articles. 
The Arecunas also supply all blow-pipes ; for these are 
made of the stems of a palm which, growing only in and be* 
yond the Venezuelan boundary of their territory, are pro- 
cured by the Arecunas, doubtless by exchange, from the 
Indians of the native district of that palm. The TarumaH 
and the Woyowaia have a complete monopoly of the rnanu-^ 
facture of the graters on which Indians of all the tribes 
grate their cassava. These two remote tribes are also the 
great breeders and trainers of hunting dogs. The Tarumas 
and Woyowais, however, though it is said that they sometimes 
pass down the rivers of Dutch Gruiana towards the sea-coast 
of Surinam, do not travel from their own territories into any 
other part of British Gruiana, but distribute their cassava- 
graters and their dogs through the Wapianas, who act as 

The True Caribs, again, are the most skilfrd potters ; and 
though the Arawaks frequently, and the other Indians occa- 
sionally, make vessels for their own use, yet these are by no 
means as good as those which, whenever possible, they obtain 
from the Caribs. The Arawaks make fibre hammocks of a 
kind peculiar to them. They also make a good deal of pot- 
tery for their own use. Possibly in former times they pro- 
duced some other manufieu^ture of more importance to the 
other Indians ; but now they have become so far civilised, and 
have so far adopted habits similar to those of the colonists, 
that they no longer have need of much intercourse with 
other Indians; for which reasons few traces of any arts 
peculiar to them are discoverable. The Ackawoi alone, so 
far as I know, have no special product interchangeable for 
those of their neighbours. These Indians are especially 


dreaded and disliked by all the others ; and it is possible 
that the want of intercourse thus occasioned between this 
tribe and the others forced the Ackawoi to produce for them- 
selves all that they required. It is, further, possible that to 
this enforced self-dependence is due the miserable condi- 
tion of most of the Ackawoi. 

To interchange their manufactures the Indians make 
long journeys. Thp Wapianas visit the countries of the 
Tarumas and the Woy^wais, carrying with them canoes, cot- 
ton hanmiocks, and now very frequently knives, beads, and 
other European goods ; and, leaving their canoes and other 
merchandise, they walk back, carrying with them a supply 
of cassava-graters, and leading hunting dogs — all which things 
they have received in exchange for the things which they 
took. The Macusis visit the Wapiana settlements to obtain 
graters and dogs, for which they give ourali-poison and cot- 
ton hammocks ; and they again carry such of these graters 
and dogs as they do not themselves require, together with 
more of their own ourali and of their cotton hammocks, to 
other Indians — ^to the Arecunas, who give in return balls of 
cotton or blow-pipes ; or to the True Caribs, who pay in 
pottery. In this way, travellers with goods and with news 
constantly pass from district to district. 

Richard Schomburgk has suggested that a higher degree 
of ornament is apparent in the manufactures of each tribe 
the further that tribe lives from the sea-coast. There is 
some slight ground for this suggested theory. The ham- 
mocks of the coast tribes, indeed of all the tribes of British 
Guiana, are strong, but without ornament. On the frontiers 
of Brazil live tribes who introduce blue and yellow threads 
into their hammocks ; and but very little farther away, on 
the Rio Negro, hammocks edged with the beautiful feather 
work of the Indians of Brazil begin to appear. Again, even 
within British Guiana, as one advances from the coast inland, 
more and nqiore elaborate patterns are to be seen on paddles, 
on pottery, and on utensils of all sorts, and more and more 
feathers are worn as personal ornaments. On the other 


hand, the Indians of the coast, with the exception perhaps 
of the Warraus, certainly Biirpass those more inland in the 
neatness and strength of their weapons, especially their 
arrows, which, after all, are the most valuable and important 
of their possessions. 

The <»r&aments which the Indians paint upon their 
pottery, weapons, and sometimes upon the posts and walls 
of their houses, are of a very simple kind. Grenerally they 
are mere lines, curved or straight, drawn free-hand and 
according to the will of the artist, combined in very irre- 
gular patterns. Sometimes a rude and childish drawing of 
•a figure of a man or of some other animal may be distin- 
guished. It is somewhat curious that Schomburgk thought 
that all such ornamentation, even of weapons, was done by 
women ; but, however that may have been in his time, it is 
now certainly as often the work of men as of women. 

We must now glance, as briefly as the subject admits, at 
the various Indian products, and learn the ways in which 
they are made. 

The pottery first claims attention. The clay vessels made 
by the Indians are all of a few very simple and unvaried forms. 
The * buck-pot ' (see Fig. 19 A) is the most universal. In form 
this is not imlike an ordinary fish-globe, but has a wider lip or 
rim ; it stands in a saucer, which serves also on occasion as 
a lid. It is in these vessels that all the food of the Indians 
is cooked. One or two vessels, like * buck-pots ' in form, but 
very much larger — being often, two feet in diameter and two 
and a half feet in height, and without a saucer — may be 
seen in almost every house (see Fig. 19 s). These are for 
holding casiri or paiwari, the two favourite beverages of the 
Indian. The casiri-jar is so large and heavy that to prevent 
the body, or belly, from breaking away from the rim when 
the vessel is full of heavy liquor, the lower part is bound 
round with a network of bush-rope, the tough and pliant 
stems of certain creeping plants. It seems not impossible 
that in some, though not all cases, where, in other parts of 
the world, pottery is found marked on the outside as though 


with basket-work, and this is regarded as evidence that 
pottery was originally made by lining baskets with clay, the 
real explanation may be that, as in the case of the casiri- 
jar, the pottery was bound with basket-work for the sake of 
greater strength, 

..(zQglfifeB (see Fig. 19 c and d), clay bottles with globular 
bodies and long straight necks, are made, and used to con- 
tain liquids by the forest tribes, but not by the savannah 
Indians, who use the empty skins of gourds and calabashes 
in their stead. 

Another vessel (see Fig. 19 e\ made chiefly by the True 
Caribs and Arawaks, and seldom used by the other tribes, is 

Ttpu of Pottkbt, 

the sappoora. This is shaped like an ordinary basin, and is 
used, not for cooking, but for holding food. 

Various degrees of skill are shown by the women of the 
different tribes in making pottery. As has been said, the 
True Caribs are the most skilful. Moreover, the success of 
the potter seems also in part due to the place from whence 
the clay is obtained ; for it differs much in different places. 
The clay from certain places on the Cuyuni river is said by 
the Indians to be the best in the colony ; and more goods 
are always asked in exchange for a vessel made of this clay. 
The clay from the Pomeroon river is said to be of very 
bad quality ; vessels made of it are certainly remarkably 

The best of the vessels are, in appearance, as perfect in 
shape and as truly curved as though made with the potter's 



wheel ; and yet they are formed by the hand alone, guided 
only by the eye. 

A flat, circular sheet of clay, the foundation of the in- 
tended buck-pot, or goglet, is first laid on a small piece of 
board. The rest of the clay has been rolled between the 
palms of the hand into long cylindrical pieces ixB thick as a 
man's thumb. One of these rolls is now laid round the 
edge of the foundation so as to stand up round it like the 
rim of a tray. This rim is now manipulated between the 
finger and thumb ; it is amalgamated with the clay of the 
foundation ; it is flattened and smoothed ; and, with great 
nicety, exactly that curve is given to it which it will have to 
bear as a part of the body of the vessel. On top of this 
another roll is now applied ; and this is manipulated in the 
same way. In this way the vessel is gradually built up 
piece by piece ; and its walls, though moulded only by the 
fingers, acquire a perfectly true curve. To smooth the edge 
or lip of the vessel, a piece of the shell of a calabash is used. 
A piece is carefully cut out from one side of the shell, so 
that the space left exactly corresponds with the intended lip 
of the vessel. By means of this nick, the shell is then fitted 
on to the edge of the vessel, and is passed round its circum- 
ference. This of course smooths away any inequalities in 
the clay, and leaves a perfectly smooth edge. In the same 
way, either a projecting ledge or a groove is sometimes made 
in the soft clay by way of ornament, entirely round the body 
of the growing vessel. In such cases, according as a ledge 
or groove is to be made, a groove of the required shape and 
size is made in the edge of the calabash-shell, or a projection 
is left on its edge. 

After the vessel has been shaped, it is smoothed and 
polished by much rubbing with a water-worn pebble — pre- 
ferably a piece of porphyry or, if it can be had, an old 
Indian stone axe-head. Suitable porphyry pebbles rounded 
by the action of water, occur in many of the smaller rivers 
of the interior ; these are collected and form a regular article 
of trade. If I am not mistaken, the so-called ^ charm stones ' 

POTTEiRY. 277 

which Schomburgk and others obtained from the Indians 
under the impression that they were worn into their present 
shape merely by being long held in the hands of Indian chil- 
dren, in a form of divination, are in reality the natural water- 
worn pebbles used by potters. After being polished the pot 
is dried in the sun. Some time after this, a pattern is 
drawn on the vessel with pieces of the bark of various trees, 
the juice of which produces markings of red, brown, pink, or 
black. Rude figures of animals are often drawn in this way, 
and, at other times, geometric patterns of spiral, curved, or 
straight lines. Some of the True Caribs have the knack of 
producing a fine glaze ^n the vessel, by the application of 
certain juices to the clay in this stage of its manufacture. 
The vessels finally are slowly baked over a fire. This brings 
out the glaze or the pattern, if any is prepared, or if, as is 
often the case, the bark of a certain tree, called by the 
Arawaks kawta {Artocarpus ?), burned and ground to powder, 
has been mixed with the clay, leaves the vessels quite black ; 
or if neither of these precautions have been taken, leaves 
the vessels hard, but of the natural yellow colour of the clay. 
They are then finished. 

The labour and care devoted to building up an enormous 
casiri-jar, bit by bit, with inch-broad strips of clay, and the 
wonderful skill shown in keeping the -walls of the growing 
structure perfectly round, are worthy of notice. Often, 
indeed, the women fail in many attempts before they suc- 
cessfully fashion one of these large vessels ; and even after 
one has been made, it often cracks or breaks during the 
baking. A perfected casiri-jar, especially if it is much 
ornamented, is highly valued ; one especially fine specimen, 
which I had often tried in vain to get, I only secured at 
last by bargaining for it one day when I happened to find 
its owner merry and good-humoured after a long drinking 

It is only vessels of the two or three shapes which she 
and her ancestors have long been accustomed to make that 
the Indian woman can make well and perfectly round. 


Asked or unasked, the women who come in contact with 
white people frequently imitate such vessels of European 
structure as they may see, such as teapots, cups and saucers, 
tumblers, or wineglasses ; but these articles are always mis^ 
shapen and untrue in curve. 

Before passing from the subject of Indian pottery, it 
must be noted that the vessels made are strikingly similar 
in form to the ruder forms of those found in the North 
American earth-mounds. The * buck-pot * and the goglet are 
exactly matched in shape by vessels from these mounds ; but 
those made by the present Indians of Gruiana are more 
highly finished than most, at any rate, of those left behind 
by the old North American mound-makers. Another sig- 
nificant fact is that, while the Indian women of Guiana are 
shaping the clay, their children, imitating them, make small 
pots and goglets. Many of these toy vessels may be seen in 
and about almost every Indian house. The large nimiber of 
vessels too small for practical use which occur in the North 
American mounds, and the object of which has long been a 
question, were, judging by analogy, probably made by the 
children of the mound-makers. 

The Indians — this time the men — are very skilful 
basket-makers. Baskets of various shapes are used by^em 
for many diflferent purposes. The material used for all £ne 
basket-work is the split, reed-like stems of a kind of 
maranta {Idchnosiphon)^ called iturite by the Indians. For 
rougher work other species of iturite are used ; and for 
the roughest of all, the unsplit stems of certain creepers, 
especially one called by the Indians mamoorie {Carludovica 
plumiervi) are used. 

The so-called pegalls ' are made to contain all loose 
arrow-heads, a ball of cotton for binding, some wal, such 
beads and other ornaments as are not in use, and all the 
other smaller properties of the Indian. The pegalls of the 

> The word p§galla is possibly a genuine Carlb word; bat the form 
pack-all which is used by colonists, is, when the object of this basket is 
remembered, sospicions. 


Arawaks, Ackawpi, and Warraua are generally square in 
shape. The basket itself and its lid are of exactly the same 
shape, and the latter, being rather the larger, slips over the 
former and entirely covers it. It is, perhaps hardly neces- 

sary to observe that the ' neats ' of these pegalls, which are 
often exported, are only made as curiosities for EuropeanK. 
Many True Caribs make their pegalls of a peculiar oblong 
shape, with very gracefully curved lines, and adorn them 
with long strings of thick white cotton on which are knots 
of coloured feathers. Bound pocket-shaped baskets, without 

lids, but covered with loose leaves if there is need of pro- 
tection, are chiefly used by the Indians of the savannah, 
instead of the more ordinary pegalls. 

Sometimes, especially by the True Gmbs, each pegsdl, 
basket and lid alike, is made double, and between the two 


layers of basket-work certain leaves (lacknoaiphon) are in- 
serted, to render the whole basket waterjMroof. 

Most of the implements used in making cassava-bread 
are of basket-work. The Tnatapie, a very peculiar basket, by 
means of which the bitter, poisonous juice is expressed from 
the cassava, has already been described (Fig. 18, p. 261). 
The square sieve(Fig.20,p.279)throiijfhwhich the cassara- 
meal is sifted before it is strewn on the baking-iron is made 
of basket-work. To hold the cassava-bread when made, large 
square tray-like baskets (Fig. 21, p. 279), with Uttle or no rim, 
are made by the Macusis and Arecunas, and similar, but much 

deeper baskets (Fig. 22), raised some distance above the ground 
on wooden legs, are made and used for the same p»irpose by the 
Arawaks, True Caribs, and most other Indians of the forest. 

Another basket in conimon use is the suriana, which is 
used for carrying heavy loads of cassava and other roots 
home from the fields, for bringing in firewood, and for 
carrying hammocks, cooking utensils, and all other goods 
when travelling. This basket is shaped like a slipper; the 
flat side, answering to the sole of the slipper, fits against the 
hack of the carrier ; a string is laced backward and forward 
across the open side, so as to keep the contents of the basket 
from falling out ; and a strong and broad band, cut from the 
inner bark of a tree, passes from the two upper comers 


of the basket across the forehead of the carrier so as to 
support the whole weight. The quake, again, is a much* 
used basket with rounded bottom, and is made of very open 
wicker-work. Quakes are used for storing provisions ; they 
also serve as cages to confine young birds and animals which 
are being tamed ; and they are used for half a hundred other 
everyday purposes. Special baskets are also made to hold 
the cotton fibre when it has been separated from the seeds 
before being spun. These are round, shaped like flat basins, 
or, rather, saucers. 

Most of these baskets— all indeed, except some of the 
surianas and quakes, are made in much the same way, and 
of the same material. The very strong stems of iturite, 
which grows commonly in the forest, are split into many 
parallel pieces. These pieces are sometimes used in their 
natural state, sometimes peeled and bleached, sometimes 
stained black. They are closely woven together, so that the 
walls of the basket are as dense as cloth. If the materials 
used are of various colours, the diflferent kinds are so care- 
fully interwoven as to produce very intricate patterns in the 
finished basket. 

Waist-belts, to support the cloth lap, are also made of 
these strips of iturite stems by the Macusi. 

The rougher surianas and quakes — those which are only 
intended for very brief use — are woven either of certain sorts 
of bush-rope, which are especially strong and suitable for 
the purpose, or of strips of iturite, as described above, but 
very roughly prepared; or again, if they are required for 
some emergency, and only for a very brief time, they are 
rapidly woven of the leaflets of a single palm-leaf. 

The quake, which, next to the buck-pot, is the most 
used of all the possessions of the Indian, is, as has been 
said, much used for packing provisions, such as farine, salt, 
and cassava bread which is to be kept for some time. But the 
quakes are loosely i^oven, and have large holes, through 
which such things as farine — coarse meal made of cassava 
— and salt would certainly fall out. They are, therefore, 


lined with the broad oval leaves of the iturite. The bot- 
tom of the basket having been lined with a single layer 
of leaves placed in beautifully regular order, a line of the 
leaves is placed, their stalks on the bottom, their upper part 
againfit the sides of the baskets. As much £Eurine or salt is 
then poured in as reaches nearly to the top of the first line 
of leaves. The lining is then carried up higher, one more 
row of leaves being added, their stems secured in the farine* 
More farine is poured in, and the processes are continued 
until the basket is full. A covering of leaves is then added 
and tied down. In this way the contents of the basket are 
entirely guarded against all damp. 

The Nikari-karus, a curious hybrid tribe of Indians, living 
on the Brazilian borders, are peculiar in making their pegalls 
of the leaves of a palm (Orbigignia) very rare in British 
Guiana, but growing near* the Oorooa rapids on the Roopoo- 
nooni. These pegalls are square or oblong in shape, like 
those of the Arawaks. 

Indian basket-work is so beautifully neat, that it is much 
to be regretted that the art of producing it is fast dying 
out, at least wherever the influence of white men is felt. 
Missionaries would certainly be doing good work if they 
endeavoured to revive and retain this and all other such 
native arts. 

Having so lately spoken of the baskets used in the manu- 
facture of cassava bread, it may be as well to find place here 
for some account of the cassava-graters. These are, as has 
been said, made only by the Woyowais and Tarumas, and are 
distributed throughout the interior of the colony by the 
Wapianas. They are oblong boards, with a slight curve 
parallel with their length. On the concave surface of this 
many small holes are drilled, and in each of these a small 
and angular fragment of granite or other hard stone is in- 
serted, so as to project slightly. The whole is then rubl^ed 
over with a strong black vegetable pitch, called karamannif 
so that the holes are entirely filled up ; and the stones, as 
soon as the pitch is dry, are firmly fixed. The result is that 


this side of the board is roughened like a large nutmeg- 
grater, and on this the cassava roots are scraped up and 
down, and are thus reduced to pulp. Sometimes the top of 
the board is painted and carved. Before handing them over 
to the Wapianas, the makers pack each carefully in a single 
layer of the waterproof iturite leaves. 

Thread, or string, is one of the first of human wants, 
being needed for fishing-lines, bow-strings, and for tying 
purposes ; and in a very slightly higher stage of civilisation 
the art of twisting this thread into some sort of cloth is at- 
tained. The Indians of Guiana have, therefore, of course 
provided themselves with string to be used in the first- 
mentioned simple ways ; and they have even attained some 
slight knowledge of its use for the latter purpose. Their 
string is made of but three kinds of fibre. These are cotton, 
the fibre called tibiairij which is obtained from the aeta palm 
{Mauritia flexuo8a\ and that called crovria, which is pro- 
cured firom the silk grass-plant (Bromelia and Anannaasa). 

A small quantity of cotton is grown and spun by almost 
all Indians, but by far the larger part of that used by them 
is prepared by the Arecunas, and is distributed by them 
among the other tribes. iSta palms grow, sometimes in 
very considerable quantity, in swampy places throughout 
the colony. Silk-grass, though also an indigenous plant, is 
cultivated in almost every Indian field. Tibisiri and crowia 
are gathered and prepared by each Indian as they are 

iEta fibre, the tibisiri of the Arawak Indians, is pre- 
pared firom the young leaf of the palm {Mauritia flexuoaa). 
The leaf, when fully developed, is fan-shaped, but it first 
appears folded in a spike which springs firom the very centre 
of the plant. It is from this spike that the fibre is obtained. 
Fibre taken from the spikes of old plants is not nearly as 
strong as that taken from young plants. Each leaf, or spike, 
is taken singly ; a sharp dexterous rub at the top separates 
the outer skin, and the whole of this is then torn oflF. This 
is the fibre, the rest is waste. It is further prepared by 


boiling, drying in the sun, and twisting into strings, in a 
way which will presently be explained. The fibre from a 
dozen such spikes is sufficient to make a large hammock. 

Crowia-— called silk-grass fibre in the colony — ^is in- 
geniously extracted from the leaves of a bromelia, and some- 
times of various species of anannassa, plants like huge pine- 
apples. A string, from which hangs a small noose, with a 
slip knot large enough to allow the pointed top of one of 
the leaves to pass through, is tied round a tree. A single 
leaf is then split up the midrib from the point where it was 
cut from the plant nearly to the top ; and each of the two 
halves thus separated is bent back so as to lie flat against 
the unsplit top of the leaf. The latter is then passed 
through the noose, so as to hang down on one side of the 
string, while the split parts of the leaf hang down on the 
other. The noose, by means of the slip knot, is then made 
smaller, so as to confine the leaf tightly. The Indian then 
takes the point of the leaf in his hand, and by a sudden and 
strong pull, forces the whole leaf toward him, through the 
loop. The green skin and soft matter are torn or rubbed off 
against the string of the loop, and only the long tough fibres 
pass through and remain in a neat bundle in the hand of the 
Indian. After this the fibre is washed, to free it from what 
remains of the green matter, is dried in the sun, and is then 
ready for use. It assumes a very white colour, and, unlike 
tibisiri, which turns yellow in the water, washes well. It 
is a remarkable fact that, at least among the Arawaks, the 
men peel the leaf from the bottom upward, the women from 
the extreme point downward to the base of the leaf. 

Both these fibres — tibisiri and crowia — are twisted into 
string in a very simple and ingenious way, but one which 
would be impossible to all except people such as these Indians. 
A proper number of the parallel fibres are held firmly by one 
end in the left hand, the remainder of the fibres resting 
across the naked right thigh. The palm of the right hand is 
laid across the fibres and, therefore, parallel to the thigh. 
By a very rapid downward and sideward motion of the right 


hand, followed by a slight backward motion, the fibres are 
rolled downward along the thigh and become spirally 
twis'ted. And this spiral is retained. The single strand 
thus produced is used for making hammocks; but three 
strands are rolled together, in the same way, to make the 
string used for bow-lines ; and three of the triple cords — some- 
times nine strands — are used in making hammock-ropes. 

The bodily form and the habits of the Indian are such as 
render the making of the string in this way easy ; for not 
only are their thighs naked, but their skins are smooth and 
hairless. If a European tries to do this same thing, the 
small hairs on his skin are caught up among the fibres and 
are twisted in with them ; and this is not only painful, but 
it also prevents the work from being done quickly and 
evenly enough to be successful. Similarly, the Indian women, 
whose duty it is to prepare the twine for hammock-making, 
80 soon as they become so far civilised as to wear dresses, 
have to give up this work. 

The string prepared from the seta is strong, but is not 
nearly so even and regular as that from the silk-grass. The 
latter kind of fibre is made in much smaller quantity, and is 
only used for the most important purposes. 

The cotton is gathered and spun by the women. The 
fibre having been carefully extracted from the pods and freed 
from seeds, is pulled by hand into a long, uneven, and loose 
band. One end of this is fastened to a hook at the end of a 
small spindle — one of a pair — which is held between the 
thumb and one finger of the left hand. About six or eight 
inches of the band of cotton hangs freely from this spindle, 
and the remainder is wound loosely round the right wrist. 

Each of the spindles is a round wooden stick, about eight 
or ten inches in length, which passes, at about two inches 
from the end which is held in the hand, through a circular 
disc, or whorl, of bone. This whorl serves as a guard, beyond 
which the spun cotton when wound round the spindle cannot 
pass. At the other end of the spindle is the small hook to 
whichHhe end of the loose cotton band is fastened. 


The spindle, after the cotton has been arranged as 
described, is twirled rapidly round between the finger and 
the thumb ; and at the same time the right hand is raised 
and removed further from the left. The circular motion 
given by the twirling of the spindle twists the fibres to- 
gether ; and the band, being extended by the gradual 
separation of the hands, is reduced to the thickness of the 
required thread* But certain parts of the compact thread 
thus produced are thicker than others. These thicker parts 
are, therefore, pressed in with the fingers of the right hand ; 
and the thread being yet more extended, the whole becomes 
even and of one thickness. The part of the strand thus 
finished is then wound round the spindle without breaking 
its connection with the band round the right wrist. More 
of the latter is now unwound and spun in the same way. 
The first spindle, when as much as it will carry has been 
wound round it, is put aside till the second has been filled 
in the same way. The thread thus prepared is of course but 
a single strand. 

Cotton of three thicknesses is used for three different 
purposes. Very fine cotton is used especially for binding 
the heads on to the shafts of arrows ; a thicker kind is used, 
somewhat as in knitting, for making various articles, such as 
the bands worn round the arm and leg ; and the thickest 
kind is made into hammocks. All these consist of but two 
strands; but the strands themselves are more or less thick 
according to the kind of cotton into which they are to be 
combined. If, for instance, a very fine strand is to be made, 
for arrow cotton, very little cotton is put into the original 
band ; and while the spindle is being twisted, this band is 
much ftirther extended than would be the case if a thicker 
strand were being made. 

Whatever the thickness of the strands, they are twisted 
together from the two spindles on to a third and larger 
spindle, exactly in the same way as the fibres were spun into 
the single strand. The cotton, when it has been wound from 
this third spindle on to a ball, is then ready for use, and is 


carefully wrapped in leaves, tied round with string, and put 
aside until it is required. 

Attention will doubtless be at once attracted to the 
curious fact that in each one of the tribes these two distinct 
methods of twisting fibres into threads are employed side by 
side : one, the rude, laborious, and often painful method of 
rolling the fibres on the thigh; the other the much more 
apt, simple, and less laborious method by use of the spindle. 
It might naturally be supposed that a tribe which had once 
attained to a knowledge of the better of these two methods 
would at once cease to use the worse ; and I believe it is 
really an imusual thing in other parts of the world to see 
tribes long retaining two such methods side by side. But I 
think there is a very simple and significant explanation of 
the anomalous state of the art of spinning in Guiana. 
Two facts must be observed : that the spindle is used only 
for cotton, the other fibres being twisted on the thigh ; and 
that, though all the three fibres are used by each of the 
tribes, yet cotton is used especially by the Carib tribes, the 
other fibres especially by the other tribes. In illustration of 
the latter of these two facts, it is sufficient to point out that 
the hammock, which is the most important, and indeed the 
only considerable form of woven work used by the Indians, 
is, as we shall presently see, made of cotton by all the Carib 
tribes, of palm or other fibre by the other tribes. Now, we 
have elsewhere found many reasons for supposing that the 
tribes not of Carib origin were the earlier inhabitants of 
Guiana, and that the various Carib tribes came into the 
country later. It therefore requires no great stretch of 
imagination to suppose that the Carib tribes brought with 
them the ha:bit of using cotton and the spindle ; and that 
the tribes previ9usly in Guiana had before used only palm 
and silk-grass fibre, and had twisted these on their thighs. 
The two sets of people, the thigh-twisters and the spindle- 
users, having, if not intermipgled, yet come into proximity, 
each adopted, for certain minor purposes, the kind of fibre 
used by the other; and with the fibre they adopted the 


method of preparing it. Thus not only is an explanation 
afforded of the simultaneous use of the better and the worse 
method, but additional light is thrown on the Carib migra- 
tion into Guiana. 

Each of the three kinds of fibre is used in the simple 
form of string. Tibisiri, which is coarse and makes but 
rough strands, is used for the rougher purposes, as for the 
laces of the sandals used on the stony parts of the savannah, 
for hammocks, and occasionally for hammock-ropes. It may 
perhaps be as well to note here that for rough tying purposes 
— as, for example, in lashing together the beams and posts 
of his house, in fastening on the thatch, in fastening together 
the various parts of his boats, and in many other such ways 
— the Indian uses no artificial rope or string, but the natural 
ropes or strings afforded by the larger or smaller stems of 
certain pliant creepers. Oowia fibre, since it can be made 
into much stronger and more even string, is used for all 
more important purposes — for bow-strings, fishing-lines, and 
especially for hammock-ropes. Entire hammocks are occa- 
sionally, but very rarely, made of it. Cotton is used for many 
such purposes as binding on the heads of arrows, and for 
ornament, as in the numerous long streamers which float 
from the feather head-dress of the Indian and hang from his 
necklaces and other ornaments, and fi-om his arms. 

It is in the manufacture of their hammocks that the 
Indians first exercise the art of weaving their thread into 
textile fabrics, though only of a very simple ki nd. 

The three kinds of hammocks chiefly produced in British 
Guiana are made either of cotton or of tibisiri fibre. Cotton 
hammocks are made by the Macusis and Wapianas, and 
occasionally — though in a slightly different way — by the 
True Caribs. They are made on a square frame, formed of 
four bars of wood. These bars are so fitted together that two 
of them — those forming the top and bottom of the irame — 
can be slid along the other two, so as to reduce the size of the 
rectangular space which they enclose and make it correspond 
with the size of what the intended hammock is to be (Fig. 23). 


A continuoua length of cotton thread ia then wound round and 
round the frame, from side to aide, or from top to bottom, in 
Buch a way that the threads lie parallel, and are equidistant 
from each other. These lengths of the thread form the 
longitudinal bars of the hammock. The croBB-bars are then 
put in. Three reels, or shuttles, charged with cotton thread, 
are provided. Each cross-bar consists of three strands of 
cotton — from the three reels — which are simply plaited 
together, each of the longitudinal bars of the hammock 
being successively inserted into one of the plaits. When 
the first cross-bar has been carried entirely across the width 
of the hammock, its three threads are broken, and a new 

Caiub Ucthod or UAKixa a HAimoac 

cross-bar is begun parallel to, and a short distance from, the 
former. When all the cross-bars have been inserted, the 
hammock is taken off the frame. So far the work has been 
done by the women. The hammock is then handed over to 
the men, who always prepare and add the scale lines. These 
scale-lines are of much thicker cotton than is the hammock ; 
to tit them properly, so that the hammock hangs evenly, is 
an operation requiring extreme care. At each end of the 
hammock is a series of loops, formed by those parts of the 
longitudinal threads which passed round the side-bars of the 
wooden frame. The scale-line having been fastened to the 
first of these loops, a certain length of it is allowed to hang 


loose; it is then passed through the second loop and a 
slightly longer length is allowed to hang loose, and in the 
same way it is passed through each successive loop, a certain 
definite length being left to hang loose between each two. 
These loose loops of scale-line must be very nicely measured 
and adjusted ; for only if the centre one is the shortest, and 
each successive one, on either side, is made longer than the 
one before it, so that the outermost is the longest, will the 
hammock hang evenly and comfortably. Lastly, when the 
ends of these scale-lines furthest from the hammock have 
been bound together, the hammock is finished. 

Fibre hammocks, made in the same way, but of parallel 
threads of tibisiri fibre, with cross-bars now generally of 
cotton but formerly probably also of tibisiri, are made by 
the Arawaks. Similar hammocks are probably made by the 
remote Woyawais and Tarumas ; though, as hammocks made 
by these Indians are never seen outside the country in which 
they are made, it is impossible to speak with certainty as to 
their kind. 

Another kind of fibre hammock is made only by the 
Warraus. These are also made of tibisiri fibre, but the thread, 
instead of being arranged in straight lines, is netted as in an 
old-fashioned silk purse. The square wooden frame on which 
these hammocks are made lies on the ground; and the whole 
hammock is netted of one continuous string. 

Each tribe, besides the large hammocks of its own peculiar 
kind, makes small hammocks, or rather broad * endless bands* 
of the same kind, in which, being worn by the women over 
the shoulder, the children are carried. 

All these hammocks, are, however, almost too loose in 
their texture to deserve the name of cloth. Cloth, indeed, 
as we, have it, is but little needed by Indians, in that they 
wear hardly any clothing. Yet these people do make some 
fabrics of far closer texture than that of the hammocks 
above described. One example is to be seen in the so-called 
Brazilian hammocks, which are woven of cotton, often coloured, 
as closely as felt, by some few True Caribs ; but it is certain 


that this art has merely been copied from some of the half- 
civilised Brazilian-Indian half-breeds who have settled on 
some of the rivers. A genuine Indian advance in the art 
of weaving is, however, to be seen in the broad cloth-like 
cotton bands which are worn by some tribes round the legs 
and arms, being, curiously enough, woven on to the limbs, 
and so without seam; and also in certain narrow cotton fillets, 
of equally compact texture, which the women wear round 
their hair, on certain festal occasions, and the men wear 
round the lower edge of their feather crowns. In both these 
cases the web is put together by means of a number of sticks 
like knitting needles ; and the stitches are all of one kind. 
A further and very much greater advance in the art is to be 
seen in certain curious strips of cotton cloth worn by men 
(Fig. 6, p. 200) from shoulder to shoulder during feasts, 
in which, by means of various stitches, a distinct pattern is 
produced; but the art of making this particular cloth has 
already been lost, and the cloths themselves are exceedingly 
rare. Of the only two which I was able to procure, or, in- 
deed, ever saw, one is now in Georgetown Museum, the other 
in the British Museum. 

Before Europeans went westward and supplied the 
Indians with ready-made cloth, it is probable that some of 
these people wove for themselves, in the way that the leg 
bands are now woven, both the long narrow strip of cloth 
which, passed between the legs, forms the only garment of 
these men, and the small apron which serves a similar pur- 
pose in the case of the women. In some tribes, however, 
then, as now in very rare cases, the soft cloth-like inner bark 
of a tree (Lecythis) was used for these purposes. Some of 
the Arecuna women in very remote places still make their 
aprons of cotton, adorned with seeds instead of beads. 

The invention of the simple art of plaiting probably is 
of older date than that of weaving ; but it seems more con- 
venient to speak of it, as practised by the Indians, in this 
place. It is employed chiefly, if not only, in making the 
belts which the men wear round their waists to support the 



cloth passed between their legs. These are plaited, ap- 
parently of different materials by diflFerent tribes, sometimes 
of cotton, sometimes of fibre, sometimes of strips of the 
material used for basketwork, and sometimes of hair, either 
of men or monkeys, Schomburgk speaks of human hair 
having been ifrequently used for this purpose only forty years 
ago ; but, probably because intertribal war has now almost 
ceased to be waged, monkeys' hair is now far more commonly 

Lastly, it may be pointed out as somewhat curious that, 
though the work of spinning and weaving is in other respects 
natuiully enough distributed between the sexes, the cotton 
fillets worn by the women round their heads are made only 
by the men. 

Not the least admirable of the simple arts of the Indians 
of British Guiana is that of working in wood. Only the men 
do this. The axes, scrapers, and chisels of stone which once 
formed their whole stock of wood-working implements are no 
longer used. Yet even now, as a rule, the only tools used to 
transform the rough block of wood into the required shape 
are an axe, a cutlass, and a knife. Sometimes a small adze 
is also used; nails too are now sometimes obtained from 
Europeans and .used. But an Indian is quite capable of 
building his house, or hewing a beautifully neat boat, stool, 
or other such article, firom a rough block of wood, without 
the use of any implement beyond his axe and cutlass. 

So much of the life of these Indians being spent on the 
water, boat-building is the most important form of carpenter's 
craft practised ^y them. The boats made are of four kinds 
— the canoe, the corial, the buckshell, and the woodskin. 
Each of these forms was possibly once peculiar to a special 
tribe; but they are now nearly, though not quite, indis- 
criminately used. The Warraus on the coast, and the 
Wapianas in the interior, are the most apt boat-builders, 
and the canoes which these make form their principal article 
of barter with the other tribes. 

When a canoe is to be made, a suitable tree is carefully 


sought in the forest, often at a long distance from the nearest 
river or creek. I have known cases in which this distance 
was more than two miles, through dense, pathless bush. 
The tree is felled, and is roughly hewn, on the spot where it 
falls, into the shape of the required canoe. It is then hol- 
lowed, partly with axe or adze, partly by burning out the 
interior. Sometimes at this stage, but sometimes not till it 
is finished, it is carried down to the river. A path through 
the bush down to the water-side having been cleared and 
laid with cross-pieces of wood as runners, the canoe is 
laboriously dragged to the water. At this stage the two 
sides of the canoe are much closer together than they will 
eventually be, and are parallel to each other throughout 
the greater part of their length, so that, instead of the 
canoe ending in a point at the bow and another at the stern, 
there is a gap left at each of these points such as would 
be produced- by cutting oflF the bow and stem of a boat of 
ordinary shape perpendicularly to the water-line. The Indian 
boat-builder has next to open the canoe further, to bend the 
sides from each other, and to give these sides the proper 
curve. The gaps at bow and stem are now explained ; for 
the sides could not be forced sufficiently apart from each 
other if they were joined firmly at bow or stem. There are 
several ways of forcing the sides apart and giving them their 
proper shape. Sometimes the canoe is inverted over a fire 
till the action of the heat spreads the sides ; sometimes it is 
filled with wet sand, the weight of which eventually forces 
the sides, softened by the moisture, outward ; and sometimes 
the canoe is sunk for a considerable time in running water^ 
and when the wood has thus been made pliant, the sides are 
forced asunder by driving large wedge-shaped pieces of timber 
'in between them. In any case, as soon as the sides have 
been spread, bars of hard wood, about an inch and a half in 
diameter, are fixed firmly across within the canoe from side 
to side, so as to prevent the sides from again approaching 
each other. The benches, too, are at once fixed in their 
places and help the same purpose. 


Two triangular pieces of plank-like wood are then cut 
and fitted into the gaps at bow and stem. The sides 
and * squared ' ends of the whole canoe are raised by the 
addition of a plank or * extra^streak.' The junction of this 
streak with the dug-out body of the canoe is carefully 
caulked with shreds scraped from the inner bark of certain 
trees, and is pitched with hyawa — i,e. the resin of a common 
tree {Idea heptaphylla) — or with karamanni, which- is a 
curious pitch-like substance, with very strong adhesive 
powers, much used by the Indians, not only as pitch, but 
also as glue. It is obtained from a very beautiful tree, the 
manni of the Indians {Siphonia bacculifera). Before it is 
used it is generally, if not always, mixed — by melting the 
two together — with the wax of a wild bee.^ 

^ The following note, supplied by a correspondent, on canoe-building as 
it is yet practised in some of the West Indian islands, from which places the 
ancestors of many of the Indians of Guiana doubtless came, exhibits a 
marked case of the survival of old habits, notwithstanding the introduction 
of new, and presumably better, European methods : ' It may not be with- 
out interest to mention that in St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Grenada canoes 
are generally used along the ooast in lieu of built boats. These canoes are 
often of considerable size, capable of carrying ten or twelve passengers, 
with more cargo in the shape of barrels of flotir, quintals of salt fish, &c, 
than their apparently frail construction would seem to warrant. They are 
rowed by a crew of four or six men, always Creoles. The shells are in> 
variably furnished — at all events in St. Vincent — by the Caribs. A small 
settlement of these people, distinguished as Black Caribs, sprung from 
intermarriage between the aboriginal yellow Carib and some Africans 
landed from a slaver wrecked on a neighbouring island some two hundred 
years ago, still exists on the leeward side. On the windward ooast some 
of the more or less pure yellow-skinned Caribs are still to be found. 
These latter are invaluable as boatmen for the purpose of shipping pro- 
duce. They are as much at home in the rolling breakers as on terra firma ; 
but rum, cum annexiiBs we say here, militates against their continued exist- 
ence as a race. The tree used in St. Vinoent is the ** gommier," so called 
because it exudes a quantity of resin so fragrant as to be a chief ingredient 
in the inoense used in the Roman Catholic churches. The tree is f eUed and 
treated much as Mr. im Thum describes, but the practice in St. Vincent is 
to hollow out the trunk with fire and axe (formerly a stone implement) in 
the woods and to haul down the shell to the beach. There it is spread by 
wet sand — the bow is never split down — ^but a triangular board of white 
pine is let in and a streak of the same material superadded ; then " knees " 
of the white cedar {Bignonia leucoxyUm) keep it in form, and seats of pine 
complete the oraft. Thole-pins of tamarind and cars of "Shoemakers* 


If the canoe is to be used for long journeys, a tent is 
added for the protection, not of the Indians themselves, but 
of their goods. A number of sticks are bent into semi- 
circles, and the two ends are fastened, one against each sid('. 
of the canoe, so as to make a framework for the tent ; these 
are held in place by cross-sticks tied on at right angles ; and 
on the framework thus made a thatch of palm-leaves is laid. 
Sometimes — especially in the interior — instead of the thatch 
just described, two thin wickerwork mats, each large enough 
to cover the whole frame of the tent, are made ; a layer of 
leaves {lachnosiphon) having been placed between them, 
the two are fastened one over the other, and the one mat 
thus produced, which is perfectly waterproof, can be laid on 
to the framework of the tent or taken oflF in a few minutes. 
This latter method of making tent covers seems to have been 
learned from the Brazilian Indians, and it is rarely seen far 
from the border land. 

A * corial ' resembles the dug-out body of a canoe without 
the plank which raises the sides of the latter ; as a rule, too, 
the corial is smaller than the canoe and is not flat — that is to 
say, its sides are not so widely opened. It is used more for 
short excursions, to fish or hunt, or to go to the field, while 
the canoe is used for long journeys. 

The * buckshell ' is dug out from the trupk of a tree in 
the sanie way as the canoe and corial ; but it is made with 
pointed and closed ends, so that it is impossible to spread 
its sides as widely apart» Buckshells, on account of their 
shape, are more cranky, and more easily upset, but lighter 
to pull and more speedy, than canoes. Those made by the 
Arawaks and True Caribs diflfer slightly in shape. 

bark " (^Byrtonima gpicata) are osually preferred. For the latter, imported 
ash oars are sometimes substituted. A rudder of European shape is used. 
In St. Lucia the construction is much the same, only the upper streak is 
lower or sometimes entirely omitted, and the oar consists of a stick, with 
an oval board, perforated with two holes, lashed to it. A couple of cows, well 
lashed down, are often brought across to St. Vincent in one of these 
" pirogues " — a word some of us first learned from " Robinson Crusoe." 
These craft are wonderfully buoyant. The canoe rarely upsets ; the only 
danger arises from overloading and swamping/ 


The lightest and most easily made boats in use among 
these Indians are * woodskins.' These are usually made of 
the bark either of the locust-tree {Hymencea courbaril) or 
of the purpleheart {Gopaifera pnhiflora). A strip of bark of 
sufficient length is first carefully taken from the tree, and this 
is cut to an oblong shape. The natural curve of the bark is 
carefully preserved. From each of the two long sides of 
this, between two and three feet from either end, a wedge- 
shaped piece, the base of which corresponds with the outer 
edge of the bark, is cut out. The two ends of the whole 
strip of bark — that is to say, the short piece between each 
end and the nearest wedge-shaped incisions — are raised till 
the edges of the wedge-shaped slits meet ; and these edges 
are then sewn together with bush-rope. This, therefore, 
raises the bow and stem at an angle from the water, while 
the body of the craft floats parallel to the water-line. Sticks 
of strong wood are sometimes, but not always, fastened round 
the gunwale inside the woodskin, to keep the bark in shape. 
Two or three small square pieces of bark are then laid, the 
rough side upward, on the floor of the woodskin; these 
serve as seats for the passengers and rests for any goods 
carried. The craft is then ready. , 

Woodskins are made and used chiefly by the Ackawoi 
and Arecunas, and also by such other Indians as live on 
rocky rivers much interrupted by falls and rapids. A 
woodskin, even when large enough to carry three or four 
Indians, with their goods, is so light that it can easily be 
taken from the water and carried past a fall or other obstruc- 
tion to navigation in a few minutes. "When not in use, 
woodskins are kept sunk under water, to prevent their 
splitting or warping under the action of the sun. 

The paddles, by which alone all these kinds of boats are 
generally propelled, are hewn merely with cutlass or knife, 
sometimes out of a solid block of timber, but more often, 
because more easily, out of one of the board-like natural 
buttresses of the * paddle-wood ' tree {Aspidospermum ex- 
cdsum). In appearance this tree is one of the most peculiar 


in the forest; the trunk resembles a number of boards 
standing on end, one edge of each going to form the com- 
mon centre from which they all radiate. In the South 
American forests there are many kinds of trees which have 
these queer board-like trunks, but in no other of these is 
this habit of growth so strongly developed as in the paddle- 
wood. The mora {Mora excelsa) for example, has board- 
like buttresses, but these radiate from a main trunk of 
considerable diameter and of the ordinary approximately 
round form ; but in the Aapidospermum the whole trunk, 
at any rate for some distance from the ground, often consists 
merely of boards. It will readily be understood that one of 
these buttresses can easily be shaped into a paddle. In 
shape the paddles vary but little throughout Guiana. All 
the tribes, with one exception, make and use paddles with 
broad, oblong blades and round shafts; at the top of the 
shaft is a small semilunar handle, into which the hand of 
the paddler fits most readily and comfortably. The one ex- 
ceptional tribe is that of the Wapiana, who use paddles with 
perfectly circular blades, rounded shafts, and straight cross- 
handles. Similar paddles are in fashion among the Brazilian 
Indians of the Eio Branco, from whom, doubtless, the neigh- 
boinring Wapiana learned to use them. The paddles, what- 
ever the shape, are often roughly ornamented with painted 
figures and patterns. 

Sometimes, though rarely, and principally on the lower, 
broader parts of the rivers near the sea-coast, square sails 
made of strips of the pith of the seta palm {Mauritia 
flexuoaa) tied together somewhat as in a Venetian blind, are 
used to drive canoes. The Warraus seem more apt at 
making and using these sails than any other Indians ; but 
True Caribs and Arawaks, at any rate now, occasionally use 


Next in importance among the wooden articles made and 
used by the Indians are the low seats or benches common in 
their houses, which are also hewn in spare moments from 
solid blocks of wood. The very desirable object of these 


seems to be to raise the hams of the Indian, when sitting, 
out of the reach of the jiggers which usually abound on 
the floors of the houses, and are painful enough when they 
enter the flesh of the feet, but are far more inconvenient in 
other parts of the body. These benches are from six to ten 
inches high, and they are often so carefully scooped out and 
shaped to fit the body of the sitter that they are as com- 
fortable as any cushioned stool could be. They are often 
formed into grotesque figures of tortoises, frogs, armadilloes, 
alligators, and other animals. One in the Christy collection, 
which, though not from Guiana, is Carib, is in the form of 
a man on all fours, the middle of his back forming the seat. 
Bright-coloured seeds, and occasionally pebbles, are inserted 
to represent the eyes. 

But, after all, the greatest time and care is spent in 
fashioning weapons, both offensive and defensive. These, 
instead of being roughly finished, as are boats, benches, and 
such large articles, are smoothed and polished as carefully 
as any piece of European furniture. For the first rough 
smoothing the palate bones of certain fish are used in place 
of files ; for the final smoothing the rough leaves of the 
trumpet- wood {Cecropia peltata) are used in place of 
sand-paper by the Forest Indians, the somewhat similar 
leaves of a shrub (Guratella americana), very common on 
the savannahs, by the Savannah Indians. 

Of w^apoBA of war the only kind now to be seen is the 
war-club, called tiki by the Carib tribes; and even these 
are probably no longer made, and are carried more as orna- 
ments than for use. They are made of hard heavy wood, 
and are often highly ornamented, being covered with a pat- 
tern formed by engraving and filling the lines thus made 
with a white earth, brightly polished, and neatly bound with 
large quantities of red or white cotton from which fringes 
and streamers, t^sselled with bright-coloured feathers, bang 
loose. Originally, apparently, they differed in shape accord- 
ing to the tribe which made them ; but these differences, as 
in so many other similar cases, seem now to be somewhat 


lost, and mont of the various forms of tiki may be seen in 
poaaession of any one of the tribes. The commoner forms 
are three in number. One is four-sided ; that part which is 
grasped in the hand is square, but from that point the sides 
gradually curve outward, the one end much more than the 
other, until they are abruptly cut off and end in both directions 
in flat surfaces at right angles to the sides (Fig. 24 c and d). 
This form appears to have been appropriated by the Macusis. 
Another type is shaped somewhat like a paddle, with a thin 

rounded abaft and a broad, flat, somewhat oval blade ; but the 
shaft, unlike that of a paddle, tapers to a very sharp point, 
which is said to be intended to stick into the ear of the enemy 
asa coup de grace after hehaa been knocked down by a blow 
from the knife-like edge of the blade. Different varieties of 
this type seem to have been appropriated by the Wapiana and 
theArecuna{Fig.24oand6). The third kind is wedge-shaped, 
the pointed edge being that which forms the handle. There 
is nothing to show to what tribe this form originally belonged, 
and it is the rarest of all. A very severe blow could cer- 


tainly be inflicted with any one of these weapons. From 
specimens existing in English and European museums, 
derived from Guiana and the neighbouring parts of South 
America, it would appear that these clubs were occasionally 
made yet more formidable by the addition of a stone axe- 
blade, or in later times a similar blade of iron, which was 
occasionally fixed into the side (Fig. 43, p. 425).^ 

Hunting weapons, such as the blow-pipe with its ap- 
paratus, and bows and arrows, are made in much greater 
nmnber ; for while warfare among the Indians is now almost 
entirely at an end, hunting is as necessary to them as ever. 

The blow-pipe is not complete without the quiver, with 
its complement of darts, and a small basket of peculiar shape 
containing cotton or other natural fibre, which, being wrapped 
round the blunt end of the dart, serves, as the * feathering ' 
of an arrow, to balance it. The gigantic hollow reed {A'nin- 
dinaria Schonfiburgkii) of which the main part of the blow- 
pipe itself is made, is said to grow only in the country about 
the sources of the Orinoco. Of all the tribes of British 
Guiana the Arecunas live nearest to that district ; and it is 
these, therefore, who procure the reeds and make the blow- 
pipes, or perhaps sometimes procure ready-made blow-pipes 
from yet more remote Indians, which they distribute among 
the other Indians. A straight piece of the reed of length 
sufficient for the blow-pipe, which may vary from eight to 
fourteen feet, is cut from between any two of the widely 
separated nodes, and is thoroughly dried, first by fire and 
then in the sun, care being taken to prevent warping. This 
reed forms the required barrel It would, however, if left 
unstrengthened, bend after a time. To obviate this, the 
straight slender stem of a certain palm, which is also pro- 
cured from a distance, by means of barter, is bored through- 
out its length, with a long sharply pointed stick ; and within 
the rigid tube thus made the reed is inserted, as in a sheath. 
The end to which the niouth is to be applied when the pipe 

* Since this was written I have been fortunate enongh to procure one of 
these wooden war-clubs with a stone blade, from the Essequibo Biver. 


is used is left as it is, or at most it is neatly bound with 
string ; but on the opposite end, to prevent dirt from get- 
ting into the tube when it stands on that end on the ground, 
the cup-like half of a round hollow palm seed is fixed, like 
the lip of a trumpet. Generally, but not always, two pec- 
cary teeth are fastened, close together and parallel to each 
other, on the outside of the tube, near the end ; and these 
serve as * sights.' The blow-pipe is then complete in all 
essential points. But sometimes, merely for the sake of 
ornament, a close covering of basketwork — the so-called 
pegall work, which has been already described — is put round 
it. Most of the examples in European museums have this 
added ornament; but such are, according to my own ex- 
perience, rarely actually used by the Indians. To prevent 
any chance of the tube losing its straightness it is very 
seldom allowed to rest on its end on the earth, but, when 
not in use, it generally hangs, passed through two slings, 
parallel to the ground. 

The quiver (Fig. 15, p. 246) in which the darts are carried 
is in shape exactly like a dice-box, but larger. It is made of 
wickerwork thickly coated on the outside with the black 
pitch-like substance which is made and used by the Indians 
for so many purposes. Attached to the quiver by a string is 
a lid, made of the tough hide of the tapir (Tapirua ameri" 
canus). Inside the quiver is a bundle of darts, the whole 
lower jaw of a perai-fish (Serasalmo niger\ and some crowia 
fibre. The darts, each about eight inches long, are made 
simply of splinters of the woody midrib of the cokerite palm 
{Maximiliana regia), as sharp as needles, which are dipped 
in urari poison. They are fastened together, palisade-fashion, 
by means of two parallel plaits of string (Fig. 25, p. 302) ; and 
the band of darts thus made is wrapped lightly round a stick, 
the upper end of which — that towards which are the points of 
the dart — ^is provided with a few sticks tied together into the 
form of a wheel ; the object of this latter arrangement being 
to protect the hand of the Indian from any chance contact 
with the poison-smeared points of the darts (Fig. 26, p. 302). 



It will easily be understood that any eiagle dart may readily 
be slipped out from the bundle the moment before it is to be 
used. With two or three crowia fibres, sufficient cotton, or 
whatever fibre in used for the purpose — which is carried in u 


smaU wicker-basket, bottle-ehaped, or like a sack tied in near ■ 
its mouth, which hangs by a string &om the side of the quiver 
— is tied on to the blunt end of the dart to fill the diameter of 
the blow-pipe ; so that when the Indian blows into the tube' 

behind the dart the latter is propelled with force and ex- 
pelled into the air. It is thus apparent that the whole ap- 
paratus, though so admirably suited for its purpose, is very 
simply but skilfully made. 

Of the ourali, called also curare and urari, the poison used 


for these darts and also for certain arrows shot from the bow, 
it will be more convenient to speak later, when telling of 
the methods by which Indians prepare other substances from 

The forms of the various arrows have been described in 
telling of the methods of hunting. The very long shafts are 
of a peculiar reed ; and these are generally provided with a 
short fore-shaft of hard wood, which is forced into the reed 
and fastened with karamanni pitch. The point of union is 
then very neatly bound with cotton, which is often arranged 
in a sort of pattern and finished oflF with one or two short 
loose streamers. In some arrows the fore-shaft, being 
sharpened and cut into notches or small barbs, forms in 
itself the point. More generally there is a distinct point 
of iron, hardened bamboo, or, in rare cases, of turtle- 
bone, which is laboriously filed firom the rough material. 
The arrow is feathered or not, according to the fancy of 
each maker. The notch at the end of the arrow, which fits 
on to the bowstring is made in this way : Two slits, crossing 
each other at right angles, are made across the end surface 
of the reed, and are continued down the length of the shaft 
for rather more than an inch ; the pith having then been 
removed from between these split parts, a short, thin stick 
of hard wood, one end of which has been cut into a proper 
notch, is then inserted in place of the pith ; and the four 
pieces of the rind of the reed are tightly bound with cotton 
round this plug. The Indians of the various tribes differ 
much in the degree of neatness with which they make their 
arrows, the neatest being made by the Arawaks, Ackawoi, 
and True Caribs. The bows, which are very long and straight, 
are made of various sorts of hard wood, generally of purple- 
heart {Copaifera pubiflora) or, when ornament is intended, 
of letter-wood {Brosimum Aubletii). The bowstring is, as 
has been said, twisted of crowia-fibre. 

Passing to the making of ornaments, these are generally 
so simple, consisting of feathers, teeth, or seeds, tied together, 
that little art is exhibited in them. The feather ornaments 


consist chiefly of two kinds of headdress and of ruffs, or 
mantles, worn round the shoulders. The former are in- 
geniously made. They are of two shapes: in some the 
feathers stand, crown-like, round the head ; in others they 
stand straight out from the head (see Plate), like the halo 
round the head of a saint in some old picture. In either case a 
frame of light wickerwork is used. The firame of the crown is 
like a round bottomless and lidless basket, some three inches 
high, with a broad lip turned outward at right angles to its 
sides. A band is woven of cotton, much in the same way 
that the ordinary cotton hammock is made, as broad as the 
height, and as long as the circumference, of the frame; 
across each end of this band a stick is fastened so as to pro- 
ject slightly both above and below the band ; and beyond 
the sticks the cotton is continued in a loosely twisted rope 
for three or four feet. The feathers, from two ibches to half 
an inch long, having been carefully sorted according to colour 
and size, a row of the longest, all of one colour, are tied evenly 
side by side on a string ; and this string is fastened along 
the top of the cotton belt. A second row, of rather shorter 
feathers and of a different colour, is then prepared, and is 
fastened on to the band so as to cover the base of the first 
row ; and this process is repeated until the whole cotton band 
is covered by feathers lying as closely and evenly over one 
another as they do on the breast of a bird. To cover the base 
of the lowest row of feathers, a very narrow fillet of cotton 
(see Plate 8, p. 198), coated with a white pipeclay-like earth, 
is then added at the bottom. The whole band, thus prepared, 
is then applied round the outside of the frame, and is fastened 
by slipping the projecting ends of the cross-sticks, when they 
meet at the back of the headdress, into the wickerwork of 
the frame. The cotton ropes in which the band ends hkng 
down side by side from the back of the frame. Three long 
red feathers from the tail of a macaw are then fastened each 
on to a separate stick, and, by slipping these sticks into the 
wickerwork of the frame, are fixed side by side, so that they 
rise straight up from the back of the headdress. The tips 


of these long feathers are sometimes clipped into fantastic 
shapes, or are sometimes removed and replaced by tips cut 
from white feathers. When the headdress is not in use, the 
band of feathers is slipped without trouble from oflf the 
frame, and is rolled up in very compact form ; and the long 
feathers are also removed, and put, for safety sake, in a 
cylinder of closely plaited wickerwork. 

The other kind of feather headdress — that which has 
been described as like the halo of a pictured saint — has a 
much smaller framework, a simple, very narrow, circle of 
wickerwork which stands out round the head. Eound the 
outer circumference of the frame is a deep groove. The 
feathers are fastened together in rows, three or four in 
number, as in the former case; but these rows are not 
attached to any common band, but are drawn, one after the 
other, base inward, into the groove in the frame. The row 
first applied — that which is uppermost when the headdress is 
worn — consists of long, white, half-flufiy hackle-feathers from 
the backs of white cocks. The next row consists of shorter 
parrot's feathers ; the next of yet shorter, and the next of 
the shortest feathers. In the one figured (Plate 8, p. 198) 
there are four rows of feathers — white, green, red and green, 
and black respectively. 

Each tribe makes these headdresses of special colours. 
In the crown-shaped headdresses of the Macusis, the top 
row is yellow; then come one or two rows of crimson feathers 
from the breast or tail of toucans ; and last and lowest is a 
band of black-green feathers from a powis or curassow-bird. . 
The yellow feathers used in this work are mostly grown by 
artificial means on living birds kept for the purpose; and the 
chief reason for which Indians keep domestic poultry is to 
supply themselves with the white hackle-feathers for the 
same purpose. It seems probable that each of the two kinds 
of headdress was originally peculiar to certain tribes; but 
both are now used indiscriminately. I once, and only once, 
saw a headdress of a third form — a row of long feathers from 
the tails of macaws, erect and encircling the whole head* 



The feather shoulder-rufTs and collars made by the Indians 
are of three kinds. One consists of a closely placed row of 
tail-feathers of one or other of the two reddish kinds of 
macaws, arranged side by side, their bases connected by a 
string, while another fine thread passes across them in a 
straight line, at a certain distance up their length, to keep 
them parallel to each other and in the same plane (Fig. 27). 
This mantle of gaudy feathers, the top of which is as wide as 

a man's back across the shoulders, is stretched from shoulder 
to shoulder, so that, the string being brought under the arms 
and drawn very tight, the feathers stand out from the body 
of the Indian like a gigantic ruflf. (See Frontispiece.) The 
two collars are more simple ; and they only differ from each 
other in that one is made of the feathers of a white heron, the 
other of the black feathers of the powis. In either ease the 
web of the feather is stripped from the quill, and the long pieces 
of web are made into a fringe which, when huDg round the 


neck, covers the shoulders and upper part of the chest. The 
heron's feathers are worn especially by men engaged in run- 
ning foot races ; the black when dancing, and sometimes when 
paddling in canoes. But that the part of the body sheltered 
by these feathers is not especially delicate, it might be sup- 
posed that the original reason for the custom might have 
been to obtain some slight shelter from the heat of the sun 
by men engaged in violent exercise. 

Of necklaces the most important is made of a very large 
number, sometimes over a hundred, of teeth of the bush- 
hog or peccary ; and as only the two upper canine teeth are 
used, such a necklace would represent th6 spoils of fifty 
animals. The feet that every Indian possesses one such 
necklace consisting of more or less teeth, is some indication 
of the enormous abundance of these animals in the forests 
of Guiana. Each tooth is filed down till its four sides are 
square; and the top is filed to a point; the bases of the 
whole are then firmly embedded, side by side and quite close 
to each other, in a thick fibre-woven cord. The two ends of 
the row of teeth thus formed are bound together ; and from 
this point of junction, which is that which, when the neck- 
lace is worn, rests on the back of the neck, two long cords of 
cotton, the ends ornamented with tassels of bird-skins and 
beetle-wings, hang down. The teeth are kept very white ; 
and that they may be more readily cleaned, the necklace is 
occasionally taken to pieces and the teeth reset. There 
seems to be some slight diflference in the way in which these 
teeth are put together by the difiFerent tribes ; for on one 
occasion when I tried to induce a Macusi to put on a neck- 
lace which I had obtained from a source unknown to him, he 
refused angrily, on the ground that it had been made by a 
True Carib. But the difference is so slight that it is un- 
noticeable to any but an Indian eye. 

Other necklaces are made by simply piercing and stringing 
together the teeth of acourie, caymans, jaguars, or sometimes 
water-haas {Gapybara). True Caribs make them also very 
prettily of deer's teeth, separating each two by a couple 

X 2 


of brown seeds or red beads. Other necklaces are made in 
the same way, but of seeds instead of teeth. One Indian 
often has many necklaces of various kinds, but none except 
that first described is regarded as of any special value. 

Turning to the musical instruments of the Indians, but 
few words need be said. Their drums,' which are of the 
ordinary shape, are made at the cost of much labour. A 
suitable tree, generally an seta palm, is felled, and a piece of 
the trunk, of the right height for a drum, being cut off, this 
is hollowed into a cylinder with a very thin wall. Two pieces 
of jaguar, deer, or monkey-skin, for the top and bottom of 

Fig. S8. 


the drum, have been previously stretched in a wooden frame 
and thoroughly dried in the sun. One of these is now fixed 
on to either end of the cylinder. A very fine double thread, 
in the middle of which is a slip-knot, is then stretched 
diagonally across the skin at one end of the drum, and 
before this is finally drawn tight an excessively slender 
splinter of wood is passed through, and secured in the slip- 
knot, so that it rests on the skin at right angles to the line 
of the thread (Fig. 28). The result is that the two ends of 
the drum when beaten produce diflFerent sounds ; for the one 
on which is the string and splinter returns a metallic sound, 
caused by the vibrations of the splinter against the skin. 
The skin of the baboon, or howling monkey, is preferred by 
the drum-maker, because it is supposed to possess the power 


of emitting the rolling roariiig sounds for vhich this monkey 
is celebrated. 

Another instrument, akin to the drum, but ruder, is made 
by stretching a piece of baboon-skin over one end of a four- 
feet^loDg piece of a hollow bamboo, of a particular and rare 
species. This instrument, when repeatedly struck against 
the ground, produces a drum-like sound (Fig, 33 D, p. 322). 

Flutes are made simply by piercing the necessary holes 


Bora Plots. 

in the bone of a jaguar or deer, or, though such are no 
longer common, a man. Intricate patterns are sometimes 
engraved on these flutes, and are coloured black or red, to 
contrast with the pure white of the bone ; and very long tas- 
sels of white cotton are fixed at each end of the instrument 
(Fig. 29). Wooden flutes, always used in pairs, are also made 
in somewhat the same way, of short pieces of bamboo-stem 
(Fig. 30, p. 310). 

Pan-pipes are made of hollow reeds. Rude wooden 
trumpets are said to be made ; and I once saw the fragments 
of one in an Indian house. 



One other very curious instrument is made and used on 
the savannahs. This is a sort of iEolian harp, formed from 
the leaf-stalk of the seta palm, by picking and separating, 
without severing, four or five feet of several of the parallel 
fibres of which the skin of the stalk consists ; a bridge, like 
that of a fiddle, is then placed imder each end of these fibres, 

Fia. 80. 

Pair of Wooden Flutes. 

SO as to raise them from the level of the stalk (Fig. 31). The 
leaf-stalk thus prepared is fastened upright in some exposed 
place, and the wind passing through the strings causes a 
soft musical sound, which rises and falls as the strength of 
the breeze varies. 

Fio. 81. 

iEoLZAN Harp. 

Last of the simple arts of the Indians may be mentioned 
their ways of preparing the chief poisons, oils, resins, dyes, 
and the tobacco which they use. 

The poison used for the darts of the blow-pipes, as 
also for various kinds of poisoned arrows, is the far-famed 
ourali. The various properties of this curious poison have, 
in spite of much research, not yet been fully traced.' Its 

' For an elaborate acoonnt of this poison, the reader is referred to a 
pamphlet hj Richard Schomburgk, published in Australia. 

'OURALi; 311 

very name is but confusedly known. In Europe it is 
variously called curare, curari, urari, urali, and ourali. 
The two first of these forms have probably arisen from a 
mere blunder ; but the three latter are various attempts to 
pronounce the Indian name. The letters r and I are very 
<!ommonly interchanged in Indian, as in other languages; 
and of Indians, not necessarily of diflFerent tribes, but per- 
haps only of diflFerent settlements, some use the word urali^ 
or even vlcUi, some urari. The Macusis are the chief makers 
of this poison in Guiana, and they distribute it to the other 
Indians. But even of the Macusis it is only a man here and 
there who can make ourali, and the recipe is carefully kept 
and transmitted from generation to generation ; so -that the 
poison-maker is a great and important man in his district. 
The recipe appears to be known to other Indians of the tribe, 
and the fiw^t that these do not prepare poison appears to be 
due, not to ignorance of the method, but to a superstitious 
feeling of the unlawfulness of its practice except by duly 
qualified practitioners, or perhaps to a feeling akin to the 
professional etiquette which in more civilised communities 
prevents members of one branch of a profession from doing 
work more proper to another branch of the same. 

Ourali is made with much ceremony, probably intended 
to enhance the importance of the maker. A small hut is 
built especially for the occasion; and no woman or child 
is allowed to approach this. Many ingredients are used, 
such as several kinds of barks, roots, peppers (Caipaiciim)^ 
ants, and the poison-fangs of snakes ; but of these, only 
one, the bark of a creeping plant {Strychno8 toxifera), is 
alone essential, as appears from an experiment made by 
Sir Robert Schomburgk, who produced poison of an eflFective 
kind from this substance alone. The Indians, however, as fiur 
as I have seen and heard, always use a variety of barks and 
one or more roots; and this is confirmed by Sir Richard 
Schomburgk, who also saw the poison prepared. The latter 
traveller mentions the ingredients which he saw used, as 
follows : — 







Bark and albamen of Urari-plant {Stryehnos toxifeTCb) 

Yakki (Stryohnoi Sckomhirgkii) 
Arimara (^Stryehnos cogent) 
Tarireng (?) 
Wokaximo (?) 
Boot of Tarireng 
Caramu ( Oisfus, sp. ?) . 

A few small pieces of Manuca wood. 

3 lbs. 

i lb. 
i lb. 
^ oz. 


I myself saw the lirst of these {Strycknoa tocdfera) used 
together with the fleshy roots of 8 caladium, and vith 
certain other barks, which may or may not have been the 
same as those mentioned by Schomburgk, as I only saw tlese 
in a dry state and after they had been scraped into small 
fragments. The caladium root which I saw used replaced, 
I presume, the fleshy cissus root of Schomburgk's formula. 

Water was fetched especially for the poison-making from 
a stream nearly a quarter of a mile distant; and care was 
taken, in carrying this to the house, to rest it on the ground 
every few yards. For, say the Indians, a bird wounded by 
a poisoned dart will fly only as far as the water with which 
the poison was made was carried without rest. 

The shreds of scraped bark were placed in a large and 
new earthenware buck-pot, which contained three or four 
quarts of water; and the mixture was allowed to simmer 
gently for many hours, during which the poison-maker 
carefully tended the fire, and every now and then blew into 
the boiling liquid. As we shall see elsewhere, the Indians 
believe greatly in the virtue of the breath of certain indi- 
viduals — as, for instance, of the peaiman who blows away 
the spirit of disease from invalids, and the evil principle 
from meats otherwise unclean. After twenty-fom* hours 
the pot was taken oflF the fire. By that time the contents 
had been reduced to about a third of their original bulk, 
and were thick and syrup-like. This syrup was now strained 
through a new cassava-strainer, and was then exposed in a 
flat vessel to the heat of the sun. The juice of the cala- 
dium roots, which had in the meantime been boiled in a 


separate pot, on a separate fire, was now mixed with the 
other ingredients, with the immediate result of making the 
poison darker in colour and thicker in consistency. It was 
placed in the sun for some hours, till it at last darkened to a 
deep coffee-colour and to the consistency of a thick jelly. In 
this state it was put into the small gourds, in which it is 
kept, and, after four days, it was declared to be ready for use. 
Experiment proved its effectiveness. A fowl slightly pricked 
with a dart on which the poison had been smeared, ceased 
to live (for that is the only way to describe the apparent 
symptoms of the poison) in about six minutes. The poison, if 
kept warm and dry, retains its power for several years. That 
without these conditions it soon becomes powerless, I learned 
on two occasions. The first lesson was when I happened to 
pick up a stick in the forest, and accidentally pricking myself 
with the sharp end I found that it was an old blow-pipe dart 
with the poison still visible on it ; exposure to the weather 
had, however, deprived the poison of its proper effect. On 
the second occasion, a bundle of poisoned darts which I had 
taken out of the quiver of an Indian two years previously, 
and had brought into the cold climate of England, fell so 
that the points entered the flesh of my hand. Richard 
Schomburgk was told by the Indians that the deadly power 
could, though once lost, be restored to the poison by mixing 
some cassava-juice with it and burjdng it. 

This poison is prepared by particular Indians in several 
parts of South America. The materials apparently vary ; 
but a Strychnos with poisonous qualities such as those of 
S. ioxifera always forms the essential basis. Where ourali 
is made, Indians from distant parts of the country come to 
barter for it. That it is only made in these centres appears 
to be due to the belief of the Indians that the poisonous 
species of St7*ychno8 grows only very locally. For example, 
in Guiana it is believed that S. ioxifera grows only in certain 
places on the Canakoo mountains in the Macusi country ; and 
the poison is only there made. But as Richard Schomburgk 
pointed out, the plant grows also on the Pomeroon and 


Waini rivers, where it is unrecognised and unused by the 

Another poison, called * wassi,' is said by Richard Schom- 
burgk to be prepared by the Ackawoi. From the descrip- 
tion given of this it appears to be the white powder with 
deadly qualities which, as is told in many an Indian story, 
all kenaimas, and especially all Ackawoi kenaimas, are said to 
rub into the flesh of their victims, 

A considerable quantity of oil is used by the Indians 
to anoint' their bodies and to polish their bows and other 
weapons of hard wood. Among the Indians of the forest, 
most of this oil is prepared from the nuts of a very common 
tree, the crab-wood {Carajpa guianensia). At the season 
when the nuts fall they are gathered, and, after being boiled, 
are put aside until they become half-rotten. When they 
are in proper condition they are shelled and kneaded into 
a coarse paste. Troughs are prepared of naturally curved 
tree-bark, one end being cut into a point : the shape of these 
troughs is in fact exactly that of the steel nib of a pen. 
These, having been filled with the nut paste, are fixed in 
some sunny place, slanting, and with the pointed end over 
some vessel. The oil oozes from the paste, runs down the 
trough, and drips from the point into the vessel below. The 
smell of this oil is very strong and impleasant ; but it is one 
of the characteristic scents of an Indian house. When 
rubbed on the body it keeps even mosquitoes and flies away 
from the flesh. Sometimes the smell is partly overcome by 
mixing some sweet-scented resinous or other vegetable sub- 
stance with the oil. Crab-oil finds a ready sale m the 
towns ; and in September, at which season the new crop of 
oil is ready for use, Indians bring it down to the coast, 
coming down then in larger numbers than at any other time 
of year. 

On the savannah, where crab-nuts are less easily pro- 
cured, the seeds of the cokerite palm {MaximUiana regidj 
are used instead. These are crushed, and boiled in water; 
and the oil which then rises to the surface is skimmed 


oflf by means of small pads of cotton fibre. This oil is very 
pure, and has no very disagreeable scent. Occasionally the 
seeds of other palms, especially of the various species of 
Astrocaryum^ are treated in the same way. 

One of the most remarkable substances prepared by the 
Indians is^ the^ karamanni wax or pitch, of which mention 
has already several times been made. The basis of this is 
a resin which is drawn, by tapping, from a very beautiful 
tree {Siphonia bacculifera\ and is mixed with bees-wax, to 
make it more pliable, and with finely powdered charcoal, to 
make it black. While still semi-liquid it is generally run 
into a hojlow bamboo ; but it is sometimes allowed to take 
shape and to harden in the bottom of a buck-pot. One very 
curious and beautiful piece of karamanni, which is now in 
the Kew Museum, seems to have been prepared in this way. 
The resin has evidently been mixed with an unusually Jarge 
quantity of bees-wax ; and the whole has then been melted 
and allowed to drop into a buck-pot partly filled with water. 
The result is a circular tablet of wax, the lower side smooth, 
and of the shape of the buck-pot, but on the upper side 
wrought into the most beautiful coils and folds of infinite 
variety. It is like a beautiful medallion carved in high re- 
lief in coal-black wood. It was prepared, apparently .acci- 
dentally, by Arawak Indians.' 

Karamanni is used in place of pitch and glue to fill up 
crevices in woodwork, as, for instance, in boat-building, and 
to fix the heads of arrows into the shafts, and for all similar 
work. Its strength, when it is not mixed with too large a 
prbpoirtion of bees-wax, is very great. No better illustration 
of this qiiality can be given than the fact that on one occa- 
sion when our men were sawing timber, and the handle of 
the whip-saw parted from the blade, the two parts were, on 
the suggestion of an Indian, stuck together so firmly with 
karamanni that the saw again became effective. 

Another substance, of very similar nature, called by the 

' I have since met with other specimens of karamanni in this form, and 
am now inclined to think that their preparation is intentional. 


Macusis ' tuara^ is sometimes, but very rarely, used in place 
of karamanni. Except that it is a whitish resin, I know 
nothing further of its nature. 

A delieioiisly scented white resin exudes from the hyawa- 
tree (Idea hept4ijphylla)j which grows abundantly in sandy 
soils. The rough masses of this, which is very inflammable, 
are often collected and stored by the Indians for the pur- 
pose of lighting fires. Sometimes, too, it is broken up into 
small pieces which are put into hollow sticks, to be used as 
torches. Made pliable by the admixture of a little oil, it is 
formed into balls, like cannon-balls, and in this state is 
stored and used to scent oil for anointing the bodies and 
hair of Indians* 

The dyes used by the Indians to paint their own bodies, 
and occasionally to draw patterns on their implements, are 
red faroah, purple caraweera, blue-black lana, white fel- 
spathic clay, and, though very rarely, a yellow vegetable dye 
of unknown origin. 

Faroah is the deep-red pulp round the seed of a shrub 
{Bixa orellana\ which grows wild on the banks of some of 
the rivers, and is cultivated by the Indians in their clearings. 
Mixed with a large quantity of oil, it is then either dried, 
and so kept in lumps which can be made soft again by the 
addition of more oil, or is stored in a liquid condition in 
tubes made of hollow bamboo-stems. When it is to be used, 
either a mass of it is taken in the palm of the hand and 
rubbed over the skin or other surface to be painted, or a 
pattern of fine lines is drawn with it by means of a stick 
used as a pencil. The True Caribs also use faroah largely 
to stain their hammocks. 

Caraweera is a somewhat similar dye, of a more purplish 
red, and by no means so commonly used. It is prepared 
from the leaves of a yellow-flowered bignonia (5. chicka)^ 
together with some other unimportant ingredients. The 
dried leaves are boiled for a few minutes over a fire, and 
then some freshly cut pieces of the bark of a certain tree 
and a bundle of twigs and fresh leaves of another tree are 


added to the mixture. The whole is then boiled for about 
twenty minutes, care being taken to keep the bark and 
leaves under water. The pot is then taken from the fire, 
and the contents, being poured into bowls, are allowed to 
subside. The clear water left at the top is poured away, 
and the sediment, of a beautiful purple colour, is put into a 
cloth, on which it is allowed to dry ; after this, it is scraped 
oflF and packed in tiny baskets woven of the leaves of the 
cokerite palm. The pigment is used for body-painting, with 
oil, just as is fEiroah. 

Lana is the juice of the fruit of a small tree (Genipa 
arrvericana)^ with which, without further: preparation, blue- 
black lines are drawn in patterns, or large surfaces are stained, 
on the skin. The dye thus applied is for about a week in- 

One or more of the three body-paints already mentioned 
is used by most Indians, and in large quantities. But the 
white, and still more the yellow, pigments are used only 
rarely, in lines or dots, and very sparingly, by some of the 
Savannah Indians. The white substance is simply a very 
semi-liquid felspathic clay, which occiurs in pockets in one 
or two places on the savannah ; this is collected and dried in 
lumps, which are then pierced, threaded, and so put aside 
for future use. The nature of the yellow dye I was never 
able to trace ; all that the Indians could or would say was 
that they received it in small quantities from a tribe living 
beyond the Wapianas, who extracted it from a tree which 
only grows in that neighbourhood. 

We turn last of all to tobacco. Every Indian man, and 
nearly every boy, smokes. The tobacco is grown in the 
clearings. The leaves are picked, and are sometimes, though 
not always, dipped in honey ; under any circumstances, they 
are hung up under the roof of the Indian house till they are 
partly dry. After that the leaves are evenly arranged side 
by side, and are lightly tied in bundles. As the leaves dry, 
the strings round the bundle are dravm tighter and tighter, 
until it is evident that no further diminution will take place 



in the bulk. The quality of this tobacco varies much, but 
some of it is most excellent. It is smoked only in cigarettes, 
made, each as it is required, by wrapping half a leaf, uncut, 
in a paper-like substance procured either from the cakaralli- 
tree {Lecythis oUaria) or from the manicole-palm {Euterpe 
oleracea). The method of preparing this paper from the 
cakaralli is most ingenious. A long strip of bark of exactly 
the width required for the wrapper of the cigarette is cut 
from the tree, with straight sides and ends. From this the 
outer rough bark is removed. With a thick, short stick the 
Indian then repeatedly strikes the cut edge of one end of 
the inner bark, with a peculiar but indescribable knack, so 
as to separate it into a great many even-sur&ced sheets. 
Thus a number of bands of paper, called by the Indians 
queekay are produced, and it is only necessary to cut these 
into proper short lengths, to make them into cigarette 
wrappers. The knack of preparing queeka is said by the 
Indians to be acquired only after much practice. Oftetf, 
when camping in the neighbourhood of cakaralli-trees, I 
have seen the younger men and the boys spend the greater 
part of the night practising the art. The other kind of 
cigarette wrapper is procured simply by tearing the skin oflF 
the inside of the spathe of the manicole-palm. 




Feasting and Drinking and Games— The Invitation to the Feast— Quippoo- 
writing — Preparations— Arrival of the Guests — Feasting — Dancing — 
Brawls — Racing and Ball-play — Arawak Whip-game — Warrau Shield- 

The festivals, the dances, and the games originally peculiar 
to any people, often remain but little altered long after most 
other matters which distinguished that people from the rest 
of the world have disappeared. Probably this is as true of 
the Indians of Guiana as of other races. But it is seldom 
easy for a stranger to see and note such festivities in their 
original and proper form. Indians are very shy ; and in the 
presence of a white man they are seldom willing to throw 
aside their reserve suflSciently to enter freely and un- 
restrainedly into the spirit of their games. It is, therefore, 
not possible to give a minute and detailed account of their 
amusements of this sort. 

All the festivals among all the tribes being occasions for 
much drinking of paiwari — the national beverage — they may 
all be called Paiwari Feasts. Sometimes these feasts are 
given on special occasions, as, for instance, to celebrate a 
marriage or a funeral, or to mark the establishment of a new 
settlement. But often they are held for no special reason, 
but simply because the headman of some settlement feels 
inclined to entertain his neighbours, and has suflScient ripe 
cassava in his fields for the purpose. 

When a paiwari feast is to be held, invitations are sent 
to the people of aU neighbouring settlements inhabited by 
Indians of the same tribe as the givers of the feast. The 


; latter prepare a number of strings, each of which is knotted 
as many times as there are days before the feast day. One 
of these strings is kept by the headman of the settlement 
where the feast is to be held; the others are distributed, one 
to the headman of each of the settlements from which guests 
are expected. Every day one of the knots, on each of the 
strings, is untied ; and when the last has been untied, guests 
and hosts know that the feast day has come. 

Sometimes, instead of knots on a string, notches on a 
piece of wood are used. This system of knot-tying, th^ 
quippoo system of the Peruvians, which occurs in nearly * 
identical form in all parts of the world, is used not only, as 
in the above instance, for calendar-keeping, but vAstoh) record 
items of any sort ; for instance, if one Indian owes another a 
certain number of balls of cotton, or other articles, debtor 
and creditor each have a corresponding string or stick, with 
knots or notches to the number of the owed article, and one 
or more of these is obliterated each time a payment is made, 
until the debt is wiped out. 

' To return to the preparations for the feast : while the 
knots were daily decreasing in number, all who are to be 
present have been busy. The guests have been making 
bread, and have been hunting game and fish, and smoking 
meat, in order to contribute their share to the general enter- 
tainment ; for the hosts supply the paiwaii, but cannot supply 
all the food for their visitors. And the hosts have been busy — 
the men in getting together as much provisions as they can, 
the women in preparing the paiwari. 

The one or more wooden paiwari-troughs which stand in 
the middle of nearly every house are shaped somewhat like 
canoes ; indeed, canoes are often used for the purpose. Each 
trough holds from 150 to 200 gallons; so that, as all avail- 
able troughs, as well as all spare bottles, gourds, and jars, 
are filled for the feast, no small quantity of paiwari has to 
be made. For this reason, and because paiwari does not 
acquire a proper degree of mellowness and fermentation for 
a day or two after it has been made, the women, whose duty 


it is to prepare it, begin to work some days before that on 
which their guests are expected. 

By the time the guests begin to arrive suflBcient liquor 
has been prepared. The visitors arrive in family parties, 
men, women, and children, in their canoes, corials, or wood- 
skins; and they bring their hammocks and their provisions — 
for the entertainment lasts some days, often for a week. 
Often they also bring such hammocks, balls of spun cotton, 
live stock, or other goods as they have for barter— for these 
gatherings seem to serve not only as feasts, but also as fains. 
As the boats approach the settlement, the men give notice 
of their coming by loudly uttering the cry peculiar to their 
tribe — for each tribe has a distinct cry. The people of the 
settlement, with the exception of the headman, who goes to 
his hammock and there awaits the coming of his guests, 
flock down to the landing-place to receive the new-comers. 
The men of the newly arrived party make their way up to 
the houses, leaving the women to unload the boats. The 
latter patiently carry up the goods, and without a word sling 
their husbands', brothers', and children's hammocks, and then 
their own, in some of the houses. 

The reception of the men by the headman of the settle- 
ment is tedious and formal in the extreme. The leader of 
the strangers first addresses his host — who during the recep- 
tion never stirs out of his hammock — and remarks that (he 
has come) ; to which the captain grunts assent. The first 
speaker then, in a number of short abrupt sentences, tells 
any news that he may have to give; and after each of 
these sentences, the captain from his hammock utters the 
3ame monosyllabic grunt of assent. At last, when this first 
speaker is done, he is bidden to sit down. Then the next 
in authority tells his news in the same manner, and is 
answered with exactly the same grunts of assent ; and he in 
his turn is bidden to sit down. And so, in long and tedious 
order, each one of the new-comers addresses the captain. In 
the meantime, the women of the house .bring to each man, 
as he sits down, a large calabash filled witt paiwari. While 




be drinks, the woman keeps her hand on the calabash ; and 
when the vessel has been emptied, at one draught, she re- 
fills it. Another woman then brings the pepperpot and 
some bread, the latter on a fan, and seta these before the 
man. At last, when all the new-comers have had their say 


and have eaten, they disperse, and retire to their hammocks ; 
probably to make way for a new set, who are welcomed in 
exactly the same way. 

The feast begins the next morning. By daybreak men, 
women, and children are busy painting and ornamenting 
themselves. On these occasions, Indians paint themselves 


to an unusual degree and load themselves with any ornaments 
which they happen to possess. Even the women are allowed 
on this occasion to put a fillet of cotton round their heads, 
besides putting on, as a matter of course, all their beads, 
teeth, and seeds. Each puts on what he has got, and seems 
to think himself the more successful the more finery he has 
put on. The result is as varied and picturesque a crowd as 
could well be imagined. 

The children, too, are painted and dressed much as are 
their parents; and sometimes even the monkeys of the 
settlement are got up in the same way. 

Quaint and varied as is the dress of the feasters, a further 
element of picturesque variety is added when they take their 
weapons and instruments. Some whirl sticks to which are 
tied bunches of certain seeds {Thevetia nereifolia) which, 
when struck against the ground,'clash and rattle (Fig. 32 n) ; 
some beat time with hollow bamboos covered at one end with 
skin, like a drum, and ornamented with bunches of these 
same seeds ; some have small rattles ornamented with bright- 
coloured feathers ; some have drums ; some have much-orna- 
mented flutes made of animals' bones ; some have flutes made 
of hollow reeds ; some have pan-pipes ; and some have sticks 
topped with a rude wooden and painted image of some bird, 
fish, or animal (Fig. 32 a). 

At last all is ready for the carousal. All form a proces- 
sion, and march slowly round the liquor trough, droning out 
a chant, keeping step, and waving their instruments in slow, 
measured time. Round and round the trough the strange 
procession winds, all feet stamping in time with the mono- 
tonous chant of Hia-hionhia. Suddenly the chant gives place 
to loud discordant cries, and the procession breaks up. The 
women bring calabashes with paiwari for the men to drink. 
Then the women drink. And then the procession re-forms, 
and continues as before, till there is a new interruption, and 
a new drinking. The actual quantity of liquor consumed by 
each individual is tremendous. By long practice they have 

T 2 


acquired the knack of bringing up the liquor almost as soon 
as it has been drunk. And so an enormous bulk of liquor 
fills and re-fills the stomach, but of this only the very small 
proportion of alcohol which it contains remains in the stomach 
to fire their spirits. In time this tells, and the drinkers get 
more and more excited. Then they leave the house and 
dance in the open space outside. 

These dances seem to diflFer in each tribe ; and, more- 
over, each tribe seems to have several dances more or less 
peculiar to it. In some the body is moved in a slow and 
stately manner, which contrasts oddly with the grotesque 
position in which the head and limbs are held. Very often 
the dance, if it deserves the name, is simple enough. The 
men range themselves in a long line, each linking his arms 
in those of his neighbours, and the women, standing opposite 
to them, do likewise. For hours together the two lines con- 
tinue to advance toward each other and to retreat, keeping 
up a monotonous chant, each individual stamping in time 
with the others, and so hard, that one wonders how their 
naked feet bear the shock on the hard ground. Only now 
and then the lines break up for very brief intervals to 
allow opportunity to drink. Occasionally, too, a man and a 
woman link arms and strut about slowly together, bending 
their bodies forward and backward, this side and that, very 
grotesquely. Certain of the dances are imitations of the move- 
ments of animals. One, of an unusually lively kind, mimics 
the capers of monkeys ; others, called tiger-dances, imitate 
the slow stealthy gliding of the jaguar. In these last, a man, 
supposed to represent the jaguar, creeps round and round the 
other dancers, and in and out among them, until he suddenly 
springs with a loud roar upon some one of them, and carries 
him off from out of the circle ; then he returns and carries 
off another; and so continues, until he himself remains alone. 
The Ackawoi have one dance in which each of the performers 
represents a different animal; and in this each carries a stick 
on which is the figure of that animal. This seems to be the 
origin of the dancing-sticks mentioned above(Fig. 32^,p.322). 


While dancing, they always chant songs ; and the end of 
each dance is marked by a loud and discordant uproar, which 
is a signal for renewed drinking. 

Often, as the fun grows fest and furious, men and women 
reel and stagger, and some dispute at l^t arises. As a rule, 
Indians never quarrel, and never fight among themselves. 
However much one Indian has been offended by another, he 
satisfies himself by ceasing to speak to his foe, or perhaps 
speaks of him in his absence as a * bad man.' But when in- 
flamed by paiwari, the quarrel is more violently followed up. 
Abuse is passed freely from one to the other. Sometimes 
even blows are exchanged; but that this is an acquired habit, 
and not one natural to the Indians, is shown by the fact that 
in such cases they do not double their fists, but, in imitation 
of the negro, swing forward the extended arm, so as to slap 
the opponent with the palm of the hand. But before Indians 
resort even to this mild form of fighting, they are generally 
so overcome by paiwari that the one who is struck falls 
at the blow, and he who strikes loses his balance and falls 
too. There they generally lie ; but if one or other of the 
fallen ones shows signs of giving further trouble, the least 
intoxicated members of the party take him or her — for it is 
as often a woman as a man — and sew him up in a hammock, 
in' which position, though quite helpless and harmless, he 
adds by his shouts to the din of the revel, which is still 

But at last, when all are either too drunk or too tired to 
keep up the dance and the shouts, they retire to their ham- 
mocks for what little remains of the night. The next morn- 
ing, however, the revel of the previous day is renewed ; and 
•so it is for many days, until all the available stock of paiwari 
has been exhausted. 

Among the Macusis on the savannahs, paiwari feasts are 
generally accompanied by foot-races. The racers, who wear 
collars made of long white herons' feathers, or of black powis' 
feathers, start, not abreast, but one behind the other, as in 
the ordinary * bumping ' boat-races of English universities. 


Games of ball are also played on these occasions, the ball 
being made either of part of an ear of lodlan com or of 
native indiarubber. 

The paiwari feasts — according to Schomburgk, thongh I 
am doubtful about this, only those held on funeral occasions-;- 
of the Aravaks were peculiar for a 
strange and painful dance, which is 
now probably nearly though not 
quite extinct. The dancers— who 
are all men — stand in two rows 
opposite to each other. Each man 
has in his hand a whip, called mac- 
quarie, with a hard strong lash made 
of fibre ( Fig. 33). As they dance, the 
whips are waved. Every now and then 
a couple retires &om the line and use 
their whips. One stands steadily, one 
leg in front of the other; the other 
swings back his whip, and, with all 
the force he can command, and with 
a spring forward, lashes the calf of 
the first man's leg; then, in his 
turn, the second man stands still, to 
receive a lash from the other. They 
lash each other in this way until 
MAcoi:iB[B Whip their calves are striped with weals, 

and blood flows freely. The punish- 
ment is borne and inflicted with perfect good temper, and 
was probably originally devised as a means of testing en- 
durance. Finally the dancers retire and drink tc^ether. 

In the Christy collection and iu that of General Pitt- 
Eivers, are some simple canes said to be macquane whips 
from the Maiougkong, a tribe of Indians living on the out- 
skirts of Guiana about the upper waters of the Orinoco. 
Perhaps this tribe also plays this game, using whips different 
from those of the Arawaks. 
\ , The WarrauB, again, are peculiar for a kind of wrestling 



which they practise at their paiwari feasts. A challenge is 
given and accepted. Each of the opponents is provided with 
a large square shield, called ha-haj about four feet high by 
three wide, made of parallel strips of the pith of the seta 
palm lashed together by means of three long transverse sticks, 
the ends of which are ornamented with great tassels of loose 
fibre (Fig. 34); The two wrestlers, each behind his shield, 
which he grasps with his hands by its two sides, stands oppo- 

FlO. 84. 

Wrestling Shuld. 

site to each other, making feints and watching for a favourable 
opportunity. Suddenly one, seeing his opportunity, springs 
toward the other, and the shields meet and clash. Each now 
strives to push back the other. Each plants one foot firmly 
on the ground behind him and bends the other knee against 
the shield. Whoever succeeds in pushing back the other 
from his position is considered to have won the victory. 




Relation of Kenaimas and Peatmen — The Kenaima — The Vendetta Srstem 
— Real and Imaginaiy Powers of Kenaimas — The Kenaima's Method of 
Work— The Peaiman — His Education and Powers — His Method of 
Care — Wide Extension of the Peai Sjstem. 

Kenaimas and peaimen,' the most marked and influential 
characters in everyday Indian life, stand to each other in the 
relation of evil and its cure. From the kenaimas come 
nearly all injuries ; and these the peaiman cures. It is only 
by studying them in this inter-relation that the enormous 
power exercised by these two characters can be understood. 
Very nearly all bodily evil tliat befals an Indian is, he thinks, 
the work of a kenaima, known or unknown ; and his only 
hope of guarding against such evil, or of curing such as has 
come upon him, is by the help of the peaiman. The latter 
is therefore the doctor of Indian societies. But he is more 
than this, for as evil of all sorts is believed to be the work of 
beings, men or other, with the power of working evil either 
with their bodies or with their spirits, and as the peaiman 
has therefore to contend with foes not merely physical but 
half-physical half-spiritual, he is not simply the doctor, but 
also, in some sense, the priest or magician. 

It will be convenient to notice the kenaima first. In a 
future chapter, in describing that which is as religion to the 

* As regards these two names, the word kenaima is a genuine Indian 
word of the Carib languages, and possibly (for such words generally have 
a wide extension) of other languages ; the word peaiman^ on the other 
hand, is an Anglicised form of the genuine Indian words pvyai orpeartzan — 
two different forms of the same word belonging to different dialects of the 
Carib language, and occurring in several other, but by no means in all, 
languages of South America. 


Indians, I shall have to enter somewhat in detail into the 
nature of the conception formed by these people of the whole 
spirit world ; but it is absolutely necessary here to premise 
that all tangible objects, animate (including man) and in- 
animate alike, consist each of two separable parts — ^a body and 
a spirit ; and that these are not only always readily separable 
involuntarily, as in death, and daily in sleep, but are also, in 
certain individuals, always voluntarily separable. A kenaima 
is one who uses this last-mentioned power for the purj^ose of 
inflicting vengeance. He is a man who, having devoted him- 
self to slaying some other man, has this power of separating 
his spiritual from his bodily substance. He is, as has been 
said, the real or supposed cause of almost every evil, and 
especially of every death. Other sources of evil believed in 
by the Indians are certain beings, siich as rocks, stones, and 
tree-trunks, and monstrous crabs, eagles, jaguars, or other 
animals, also and alike consisting of body and spirit; but 
these will be more properly described as part of the whole 
system of religion, or rather animism, of the Indians. 

Travellers are apt to suppose that the motive of the 
kenaima is merely that of an ordinary murderer. But though 
there are probably murderers of this sort, for Indians, gentle 
as they are, do sometimes commit murder — that is, homicide 
prom{)ted by a personal feeling of anger— yet such cases are 
probably far from common. Such murderers, however, also 
pass as kenaimas ; but they are not so in any strict sense. 
It is necessary, therefore, to distinguish the true nature of 
kenaimas, and to add to this some knowledge of the belief in 
their uncanny powers. 

In the first place, as probably the original conception, 
must be noticed the kenaima as the slayer — he must not be 
called a mtmierer — ^who is bound to slay by a fixed and, in 
a certain stage of society, undoubtedly salutary custom. 
Indians have a high sense of the imperative duty of retalia- 
tion ; and this fully suffices to keep crime in check amongst 
them. He against whose nearest relative a wrong has been 
donC;, either intentionally or unintentionally, by any other 


Indian, devotes himself to follow and kill the wrong-doer, or, 
if he cannot be found, some one of his relatives. Richard 
Schomburgk ^ mentions a striking case in which a Warrau 
boy of twelve years old took upon himself, and boldly executed, 
the duties of a kenaima, as a matter of course and with the 
full approval of his tribe. In all primitive societies where 
there are no written laws and no supreme authority to enforce 
justice, such vengeance has been held as a sacred duty ; for, 
in the absence of laws enforced by society, the fear of this 
vengeance to be inflicted by the injured individual, or by 
those nearest of kin to him, alone deters individuals fiom 
crime. Outside America, at various times in the history of 
the world, a custom in every way similar to this Indian 
kenaima system has prevailed. The best known instances are 
the vendetta, the Israelitish law of retaliation which gave rise 
to the ' cities of refuge,' and the Saxon system which resulted 
in the law of blood-money or were-gild, which was money 
paid to buy off just vengeance. This custom of recognised 
retaliation yet exists among the Indian tribes of Guiana, and 
must continue to exist until some system for the administra- 
tion of justice is established in the districts inhabited by 
them. The kenaima, in the original and true sense of the 
word, is one who is thus compelled to retaliate. 

Kenaimas of this kind are realities. But beside these 
there are other kenaimas, the imaginary nature of which we 
can recognise, but who to the fanciful Indian are equally 
real. Every death, every illness, is regarded not as the 
result of natural law, but as the work of a kenaima. Often 
indeed the survivors or the relatives of the invalid do not 
know to whom to attribute the deed, which therefore per- 
force remains unpunished ; but often, again, there is real or 
fancied reason to fix on some one as the kenaima, and then 
the nearest relative of the injured individual devotes himself 
to retaliate. Strange ceremonies are sometimes observed 
in order to discover the secret kenaima. Richard Schom- 
burgk ^ describes a striking instance of this. A Macusi boy 

* Jtci^en in BriUsch Guiana, vol. i. p. 158. * Ibid. p. 325. 


had died a natural death, and his relatives endeavoured to 
discover the quarter to which the ken^ma who was supposed 
to have slain him belonged. Baising a terrible and mono- 
tonous dirge, they carried the body to an open piece of 
ground, and there formed a circle round it, while the father, 
cutting from the corpse both the thumbs and little fingers, 
both the great and the little toes, and a piece of each heel, 
threw these pieces into a new pot, which had been filled with 
water. A fire was kindled, and on this the pot was placed. 
When the water began to boil, according to the side on which 
one of the pieces was first thrown out from the pot by the 
bubbling of the water, in that direction would the kenaima 
be. In thus looking round to see who did the deed, the 
Indian thinks it by no means necessary to fix on anyone 
who has been with or near the injured man. The kenaima 
is supposed to have done the deed, not necessarily in person, 
but probably in spirit. 

As regards the kenaima's method of doing his work, there 
is a way in which the real kenaima really does his, and other 
ways in which the imaginary kenaima is supposed to do his. 

The real kenaima, wherever his intended victim goes, 
follows until he finds an opportunity of killing him, either 
with the club of hardwood which he carries, or with an 
arrow, or, more frequently, as the Indians say, by poison, 
which he finds an opportunity of administering, and which 
slowly destroys his victim. An Indian, if he thinks that he 
is being followed by a kenaima, tries never for a moment to 
be without finendly companions; but if ever — probably on 
some occasion when with others he is on his way home from 
making a field or firom hunting — he lingers for a minute or 
two behind the others, and some thicket or a turn in the 
path hides him from their view, or if he is caught asleep by 
his enemy, in that minute he is lost. The kenaima who, 
though hardly ever seen, had followed him like a shadow for 
days, or weeks, or even months, strikes him down. Accord- 
ing to the Indians, the kenaima, after he has struck down his 
victim, sometimes binds him while yet alive and rubs a burning 


and deadly poison into his flesh, or hopelessly dislocates 
his limbs ; and in this state, alive, though with the certainty 
of speedy death, the poor wretch is found by his companions, 
if they return to look for him. This latter part of the process 
is really probably seldom, if ever, practised ; but it is at least 
certain that Indians have a considerable knowledge of the 
use of vegetable poisons. 

The method of the imaginary kenaima differs in that he 
works invisibly. It will presently be shown that Indians 
believe that each individual man has a body and a spirit 
within that body ; and they think that kenaimas use their 
power of separating spirits and bodies and of sending these 
spirits to obey their orders, to whatever place they please, 
and of directing the actions of these spirits. It is, there- 
fore, in the imaginary cases, not the kenaima in the body, 
but his spirit, which kills or injures. 

The belief is probably partly based on the fact that the 
commonest forms of death among Indians are consumption, 
dysentery, and a horrible disease known as * buck-sickness,' 
all of which diseases kill their victims by a slow, wasting 
process, not unlike the effects of poison ; and poison is sup- 
posed to be in an especial degree a weapon of the kenaima. 
Whenever, therefore, an Indian dies in such illness, it is said 
that the spirit of the kenaima came and administered poison. 

Nor is it only in his own proper body or as an invisible 
spirit that the kenaima is supposed to be able to approach 
his unsuspecting victim. He has the power of putting his 
spirit into the body of any animal he pleases — a jaguar, a 
serpent, a sting-ray, a bird, an insect, or anything else. It 
is not to be wondered at that an Indian, when attacked by a 
beast of prey, by a serpent, or other harmful animal, should 
regard it as a kenaima. But it is more remarkable that 
he regards certain small harmless birds in the same light. 
One small bird which in the early morning and in the even- 
ing flits, with a peculiar and shrill whistle, over the savan- 
nahs and sometimes approaches the Indian settlements, is 
looked upon with especial distrust. When one of these is 


shot, the Indians suppose that they have one enemy less, 
and they burn it, taking great care that not even a single 
feather escapes to be blown about by the wind ; on a windy 
day on the savannahs I have seen upwards of a dozen men 
and women eagerly chasing single floating feathers of these 
birds. Again, kenaimas, in the form of worms, insects, or 
even inanimate objects, are supposed to enter into the bodies 
of their enemies and there cause all headaches, toothaches, 
and other such bodily pains. 

The idea that pains are caused by foreign bodies em- 
bedded in the flesh of the sufferer is widely spread among 
uncivilised people throughout the world, as has long been 
known ; but, as far as I know, it has not been noted that 
this foreign substance — at least among the Indians of 
Guiana — is often, if not always, regarded, not as simply a 
natural body, but as the materialised form of a hostile spirit. 

The kenaima system seems to be partly the cause of the 
strict retention of the distinctions between the many tribes 
which live side by side in British Guiana. The kenaima — 
the real one — ^is probably rarely of the same tribe as his 
victim ; and the imaginary kenaimas who mysteriously cause 
every death, are naturally thought of as of a tribe diff'erent 
from that of their victims. Thus the feeling of mutual sus- 
picion and hatred which has arisen natiurally between the 
tribes is fostered and retained. And while each tribe sus- 
pects the tribe which lives immediately next to it, they all 
seem to have a peculiarly hostile feeling toward the Acka- 
woi, who have an especial reputation as kenaimas. 

Such are the foes against whom the peaiman — to whom 
we must now turn — has to fight on behalf of the people 
of his settlement or district. Of course, against the real 
kenaima his arts can. afford no protection : it is the imaginary 
attack of the kenaima that he has to counteract. But, it 
must not be forgotten, the Indian conceives no diff*erence 
between their real and their imaginary powers. It is almost 
impossible to over-estimate the dreadful sense of constant 
and unavoidable danger in which the Indian would live 


were it not for his trust in the protecting power of the 

In addition to the influence derived from this fact, the 
peaiman has power depending on his knowledge of the 
medicinal value of herbs — ^though it is doubtful whether 
this knowledge is not largely shared by the other, lay, 
Indians — and on the fact that he is supposed to be able to 
tell the place in which there is most game. The importance 
of the peaiman and the fact that he deals both with body 
and spirit, that he is both doctor and priest, will now easily 
be understood, 

According to tradition, the oflSce of peaiman was formerly 
hereditary. If there was no son to succeed the father, the 
latter chose and trained some boy from the ixibe— one with 
an epileptic tendency being preferred. At present, however, 
the office seems occasionally to be undertaken without any 
hereditary claims — not because they have been chosen, but 
simply of their own wish — by the most worthless Indians, 
who choose it as the easiest, pleasantest, and best-paid way 
of life. But to become a peaiman the candidate has to 
undergo a painful and severe trial of endurance. He has to 
undergo long fasts, to wander alone in the forest, houseless 
and unarmed, and with only such food as he can gather; 
and he has gradually to accustom himself to drink fearfully 
large draughts of tobacco-juice mixed with water. He is 
trained to use and command his voice in a manner the sus- 
tained power of which might be envied by the most brilliant 
operatic singer, and the command of which would make his 
fortune as a ventriloquist. Maddened by the draughts of 
nicotine, by the terrors of his long solitary wanderings, and 
fearfully excited by his own ravings, he is able to work him- 
self at will into those most frantic passions of excitement 
during which he is supposed to hold converse with the 
kenaimas and to control them. It has been said that epi- 
leptic subjects are by preference chosen as peaimen, and are 
trained to throw themselves at will into convulsions ; and it 
is at least certain that the peaiman, when in the midst of his 


frantic performance, seems as though overcome by some fear- 
ful fit, or in the extreme of raving madness. 

The second, and more sober, part of the education of 
the peaiman consists in learning the traditions of the tribe, 
which he, in his turn, will have to hand down to his suc- 
cessor. He is also taught the medicinal and poisonous 
qualities of plants ; and he is taught rules by which he is 
supposed to be able to find out where game is to be had. 

An instance of the peaiman 's method of cure— one 
which I have good reason never to forget — may be given. 

On one occasion, when living with Macusi Indians on the 
savannahs, and sufiering from slight headache and fever, 
a peaiman, with whom I had endeavoured to establish 
friendly relations, offered to cure me. It was too good an 
opportunity to be lost, and I accepted. An hour or two 
after dark I carried my hammock to the house where the 
man was living, and there re-slung it. According to request, 
I had brought with me a pocketful of tobacco-leaves. These 
were now steeped in a calabash of water, which was then 
placed on the ground. The peaiman had pr6vided himself 
with several bunches of green boughs cut from the bushes 
on the savannah. The entrance to the house having been 
closed, we were completely shut in — for the house, as usual 
among the savannah Indians, was walled and without windows 
or chimneys. The fires were put out, and all was dark. Be- 
sides the peaiman and myself, there were about thirty people 
in the house, most of them attracted by such a novel per- 
formance as the peai-ing of a white man. We all lay in 
our hammocks ; and I was especially warned not to put foot 
to the ground, for the kenaimas would be on the floor, and 
would do dreadful things to me if they caught me. 

All was now ready for the performance ; but there was a 
pause. At last it appeared that the peaiman was shy of 
working in the presence of a ^ite man. I did what I could 
to reassure -him ; and at last succeeded in this, by promising 
that I would not stir out of my hammock, that I would not 
look at anything — a promise which it would have been hard 


to break in that utter darkness — and that I would not 
attempt to lay hands on anything that might touch me. 
Then the ceremony began. 

For a moment all was still, till suddenly the silence was 
broken by a burst of indescribable and really terrible yells 
and roars and shouts, which filled the house, shaking walls 
and roof, sometimes rising rhythmically to a roar, sometimes 
sinking to a low distant-sounding growl, which never ceased 
for six hours. Questions seemed to be thundered out and 
answers shouted back ; words and sentences, questions and 
answers, following each other so closely that there was no 
pause in the sound. To me, knowing very little of the 
Macusi language, the meaning was unintelligible; but as 
long as I kept my senses a Macusi boy who spoke English, 
and who had slung his hammock close to mine, did his best 
to whisper into my ear some sort of a translation. It was 
the peaiman, he explained, roaring out his questions and 
commands to the kenaimas, and the kenaimas who were 
yelling and growling and shouting their answers. 

Every now and then, through the mad din, there was a 
sound, at first low and indistinct, and then gathering in 
volume, as if some big winged thing came from far toward 
the house, passed through the roof, and then settled heavily 
on the floor ; and again, after an interval, as if the same 
winged thing rose and passed away as it had come. As each 
of these mysterious beings came and went, the air, as if dis- 
placed by wings, was driven over my face. They were the 
kenaimas coming and going. 

As each came, his yells were first indistinctly heard fi'om 
far off, but grew louder and louder until, as he alighted on 
the floor of the house, they reached their height. The first 
thing each did was to lap up some of the tobacco-water, with 
an ostentatious noise, from the calabash on the floor. But 
while he lapped, the peaiman kept up the shouts, until the 
kenaima was ready to answer. Whei;i each kenaima had 
given an account of itself, and had promised not to trouble 
me, it flew rustling away. They came in the form of tigers, 


deer, monkeys, birds, turtles, snakes, and of Ackawoi and 
Arecuna Indians. Their voices were slightly different in 
toije, and they all shouted in voices which were supposed 
to be appropriate to their forms — but oddly enough, all 

lij was a clever piece of ventri]x)quism and acting. The 
whole long terrific noise came from the throat of the peaiman ; 
or perhaps a little of it from that of his wife. The only 
marvel was that the man could sustain so tremendous a 
strain upon his voice and throat for six long hours. The 
rustling of the wings of the kenaimas, aikd the thud which 
was heard as each alighted on the floor, were imitated, as I 
afterwards found, by skilfully shaking the leafy boughs and 
then dashing them suddenly against the ground. The 
boughs, swept through the air close by my face, also pro- 
duced the breezes which I had felt. Once, probably by 
accident, the boughs touched my face ; and it was then 
that I discovered what they were, by seizing and holding 
some of the leaves with my teeth. Once, too, toward the 
end of the performance, and when I had lost nearly all con- 
«;iousness, a hand was, I thought, laid upon my face. That, 
as will presently appear, was the crisis of my illness. 

The effect of all this upon me was very strange. Before 
long I ceased to hear the explanations of the boy by my side, 
and passed into a sort of fitful sleep or stupor, probably akin 
to mesmeric trance. Incapable of voluntary motion, I 
seemed to be suspended somewhere in a ceaselessly surging 
din ; and my only thoughts were a hardly-felt wonder as to 
the cause of the noise, and a gentle, fruitless effort to 
remember if there had once been a time before noise was. 
Now and then, when the noise all but died away for a few 
moments, during the intervals in which the peaiman was 
supposed to have passed out through the roof and to be 
heard from a great distance, I woke to half-consciousness. 
But always as he came back, and the noise grew again, I 
once more gradually fell into a state of stupor. 



At last, when, toward morning, the noise had finally 
ended, I awoke thoroughly. The bars being taken away 
from the entrance of the house, I rushed out on to the open 
savannah. It was a wild and pitch-dark night ; rain fell 
heavily; thunder pealed incessantly; and every now and 
then lightning, flashing behind the far-oflf Pacaraima range, 
for a moment vividly showed the rugged edge of the dark 
mountains against the sky. Bare-headed, bare-footed, and 
coatless, I spent the short time before dawn out in the 
six)rm ; and the savannah, the night, and the storm seemed 
sti-angely fresh and pleasant after the dark, close, noise-filled 

It is perhaps needless to add that my head was anything 
but cured of its ache. But the peaiman, insisting that I 
must be cured, asked for payment. He even produced the 
kenaima, a caterpillar,^ which, he said, had caused the pain, 
and which he had extracted from my body at the moment 
when his hand had touched my face. I gave him a looking- 
glass which had cost fourpence ; and he was satisfied. 

Such, with occasional slight variations, is the performance 
by which the peaiman professes to cure his patients. The 
variations introduced are slight, and chiefly depend upon the 
tribe to which the peaiman belongs. For instance, among 
some tribes the peaiman works, as in the above instance, 
in an ordinary house, and in the midst of the people; 
but among others, the performances take place in slight, 
temporary huts of palm-leaves, without door or window, in 
which the peaiman is alone, the people standing outside the 
house, talking and laughing. In neither case, whether he 
works by himself or in a crowd, is the respect of silence paid 
to his incantations. Again, instead of the simple bunch of 
boughs which is sometimes used, a peculiar rattle made of a 

* It is a legitimate question whether, when a kenaima having, as in this 
instance, entered into his victim, in the body of a caterpillar, and when 
that caterpillar has been removed and killed, the kenaima is at the same 
time killed or injured. I think not ; his spirit simply passes out of the 
caterpillar back into his own body, or into any other body into which he 
chooses to send it. Cf. the story of Pau-Puk-Eeewis in ffiaroatha. 


gourd-shell, containing some hard seeds, and ornamented 
with long wreaths of bright-coloured feathers is used. 
This rattle is different somewhat in shape according to the 
tribe. Sometimes, also, a drum is used. 

One other power, in addition to that, of summoning, 
banishing, and correcting kenaima8,the peaiman is supposed 
to possess. He is able to call to him and question the spirit 
of any sleeping Indian of his own tribe. So that if an 
Indian wishes to know what an absent friend is doing, he 
has only to employ the peaiman to summon and question 
the spirit of the far-away Indian. Or the peaiman may 
send his own spirit, his body remaining present, to get the 
required information. 

There is a peaiman in each of the larger villages, and in 
each of the districts in which the inhabitants are more 
scattered. As soon as an Indian is ill he sends for the 
peaiman. The latter first blows three times on the invalid, 
under the idea that he is blowing away the evil spirit of the 
illness ; and if that fails he attempts to work a cure by the 
long and painful performances above described. If the first 
peaiman fails, a second is sent for ; and the two fill the ^econd 
night with their noise. Sometimes, in very obstinate cases, 
three peaimen perform on a third night. 

Sometimes, when there is no definite case of illness, but 
the whistling of certain birds or other equally certain signs 
of the presence of kenaimas have been observed in and about 
the village, the peaiman is employed to drive these enemies 
away. To do this, he walks round the houses by night, 
shouting, beating a drum, or shaking a rattle. Many and 
many a night is made sleepless in this way in an Indian 

For each supposed cure, and for each ejectment of 
kenaimas from a village, the peaiman is paid. But by fieur 
the larger part of his reward is indirect, and consists in the 
immense amount of influence which he gains. Whatever 
he takes a fancy to — from some trifle of food to any other 



Indian's wife — he asks for, and gets; for no Indian dare 
refuse him anything. And thus he l^ds a lazy life, doing 
nothing except when peai-ing, living on all the good things 
of Indian life, and enjoying more wives — or, in other words, 
workers — than anyone else. 




The Religion of the Indians an almost Unmixed Animism — Animism and 
Morality entirely Unconnected — Methods of Study — Indian Belief in 
the Two Parts of Man, Body and Spirit — Evidence of the Existence and 
Separability of the Spirit in Death, Sleep, and Visions — Power of 
Transmission of the Spirit into other Bodies — Spirits of Animals — 
Spirits of Fabulous Animals— Spirits of Inanimate Objects — Nature of 
Disease- Spirits — Indian Conception of the Spirit World — General 
Statement of the Lines along which Animism might be expected to 
Develop into Higher Religion — Indian Conception of Continuance of 
Spirit after the Death of the Body — Where Disembodied Spirits 
Dwell — No Supreme Spirits — Nature of the so-called Indian's 'Great 
Spirit ' — Worship, Rites, and Ceremonies. 

Travellers have again and again asserted of various peoples 
in the condition of savagery, that they were without religion; 
and ethnologists have as often disputed for and against the 
truth of this statement. This strife has generally arisen 
where the one single word * religion,' on which the whole 
matter depends, has not been clearly defined at the outset. 
At the one extreme, the word * religion ' may mean a know- 
ledge of a Supreme Being and Creator, together with a 
certain theory and practice of life which such knowledge is 
supposed to induce ; at the other extreme, it may be used 
to express merely a recognition of the existence of spirit as 
opposed to body ; and between these two meanings an in- 
finite number of others, which are in fact intermediate 
between the two, may be attributed to the word. To deny 
religion, in the simplest meaning of the word, of any people, 
is obviously very different from denying it in any of its 
higher senses, or still more in its highest sense ; and it may 
safely be affirmed that no people have been found without 


religion in its simplest form. Because of the ambiguity of 
the word * religion,' a convenient term has been brought into 
prominence by Mr. E. B. Tylor, to express that which the 
word means when used in its simplest sense. This term is 
* animism ' ; which means simply a belief in the existence of 
spirits as distinct, not necessarily as separate, from bodies. 
This animism is the universal and earliest form of religion, and 
is the germ from which religion in the highest fonn in which 
it anywhere exists has developed by additions made gradually 
and often without notice. My present task is first to show 
that the Indians of Guiana are an abundantly animistic 
people, and then to trace the very slight degree in which 
their religious views have advanced beyond the sta^e of mere 
animism in the direction of higher religion. 

Before entering into details, one other point about pure 
animism, as it occurs in Guiana, must be brought distinctly 
into notice. It is commonly taken for granted that religion 
and morality are inseparably connected. But as a matter of 
fact, the two have originally absolutely nothing to do with 
each other ; and it is only in a society which has reached a 
comparatively high stage of civilisation — where, that is, 
religion and morality have separately developed to a con- 
siderable extent — that religion grasps mdrality, and insists 
that the latter is a necessary part of itself. Pure animism 
belongs to a stage of social development below that at which 
this combination takes place. Accordingly, though the 
Indians of Guiana observe an admirable code of morahtv, 
yet this code is a matter of social convenience ; and though 
this code exists side by side with a simple animistic form of 
religion, the two have absolutely no connection. 

The difficulty of studying animism such as that of 
these Indians, lies in the fact that it is almost impossible for 
the student sufficiently to realise that though it is a form 
of religion it is, in so far as it is pure, without those super- 
natural and moral accretions which the civilised man is 
wont to regard as the most important part of religion. And 
this difficulty is largely increased, owing to the fact that the 


civilised student generally sees the animism of savages 
through the eyes of Christian missionaries, who of all men 
are the most apt, but wrongly, to regard the undoubted im- 
portance of these supernatural and moral accretions as proof 
of their necessary and aboriginal connection with religion. 
The safest method of study is to begin from the beginning, 
to find the nature and extent of Indian belief in spirits, or, 
in other words, the extent and nature of their animism, 
and thus to notice, without expecting, any accretions which 
they may have made to this. 

The first matter, then, is the nature of the Indian's belief 
in spirits. Every Indian believes that he himself, and con- 
sequently every other human being, consists of two parts — a 
body and a soul or spirit.' To one who has never given 
thought to such matters it may at first seem strange that a 
so-called savage should be able to form for himself a concep- 
tion of so immaterial a thing as a spirit. Yet but very little 
reflection is needed to bring conviction that it is impossible 
that man, being rational and having once seen death, should 
fail to acquire such conception. When a man dies, some- 
thing goes, something is left. The survivors necessarily 
distinguish in thought between these two parts, and they 
call them respectively by some such name as spirit and body. 
A curious illustration of this is afforded by the saying of the 
Macusis, as they point out that the small human figure has 
disappeared from the pupil of a dead man's eye, that ' his 
spirit (or, as they call it, his emmawarri) has gone.' This 
alone is sufficient reason to the Indian for belief in the 
distinctness of body and spirit, or the two parts that separate 
at death. But it is not only at death that the Indian sees 
these separate. It is a platitude among civilised people t<y 
remark on the similarity between 

Death and biB brother sleep ; 

^ The reader will at once perceive that I have not distinguished be- 
tween soul and spirit. It is wholly unnecessary here to make any such 
distinction, for it does not exist in the mind of the Indian. I shall there- 
fore, in future, use only the word ' spirit.' 


but great as the similarity is to us, it seems far greater to 
the Indian. Suggestively enough, civilised men and savages 
do not see this similarity from quite the same point of view. 
To us it appears to lie in the fact that both in sleep and in 
death there seems to be a rest from and a forgetfulness of 
the tilings of life ; but to the Indian it lies rather in the fact 
that in both cases the spirit departs from the body only to 
continue its labours under slightly altered circumstances. 
This latter fact requires a little consideration. The dreams 
which come in sleep to the Indian are to him, though not to 
us, as real as any of the events of his waking life. To him 
dream-acts and working-acts differ only in one respect — 
namely, that the former are done only by the spirit, the latter 
are done by the spirit in its body. Seeing other men asleep, 
and afterwards hearing from them the things which they sup- 
pose themselves to have done when asleep, the Indian has no 
difficulty in reconciling that which he hears with the fact 
that the bodies of the sleepers were in his sight and motion- 
less throughout the time of supposed action, because he 
never questions that the spirits, leaving the sleepers, played 
their part in dream-adventures. Dreams, in fact, are re- 
garded as but part of the history of each man's life. Then, 
as regards death, the Indian, when some man known to him 
dies, still continues to see his dead friend in dreams — that is, 
in parts of his own real life ; and it therefore, not unnaturally, 
seems to the siurivor that the spirit of the dead man, yet 
living, continues to act just as does the living man in 

It becomes important, therefore, fully to recognise the 
complete belief of the Indian in the reality of his dream-life, 
and in the unbroken continuity of this with his working-life. 
It is easy to show this belief by many incidents which came 
under my notice. For instance, one morning when it was 
important to me to get away from a camp on the Essequibo 
river, at which I had been detained for some days by the 
illness of some of my Indian companions, I found that one 
of the invalids, a young Macusi, though better in health, 



was so enraged against me that he refused to stir, for he 
declared that, with great want of consideration for his weak 
health, I had taken him out during the night and had made 
him haul the canoe up a series of difficult cataracts. Nothing 
could persuade him that this was but a dream, and it was 
some time before he was so far pacified as to throw himself 
sulkily into the bottom of the canoe. At that time we were 
all suffering from a great scarcity of food, and, hunger having 
its usual effect in producing vivid dreams, similar events 
frequently occurred. More than once, the men declared in 
the morning that some absent man, whom they named, had 
Gome during the night, and had beaten or otherwise mal- 
treated them ; and they insisted upon much rubbing of the 
bruised parts of their bodies. Another instance was amusing. 
In the middle of one night I was wakened by an Arawak 
named Sam, the captain or headman of the Indians who were 
with me, only to be told the bewildering words, * George 
speiak me very bad, boss ; you cut his bits ! ' It was some 
time before I could collect my senses sufficiently to remember 
that * bits ' or fouipenny-pieces, are the units in which, 
among Creoles and semi-civilised Indians calculation of 
money, and consequently of wages, is made ; that to cut bits 
means to reduce the number of bits, or wages, given ; and to 
understand that Captain Sam, having dreamed that his sub- 
ordinate George had spoken insolently to him, the former, 
with a fine sense of the dignity of his office, now insisted 
that the culprit should be punished in real life. One more 
incident, of which the same Sam was the hero, may be told 
for the sake of the humour, though it did not happen within 
my personal experience, but was told me by a friend. This 
friend, in whose employ Sam was at the time, told his man, 
as they sat roimd the fire one night, of the Zulu or some 
other African war which was then in progress, and in so doing 
inadvertently made frequent use of the expression * to 
punish the niggers.' That night, after all in camp had 
been asleep for some time, they were roused by loud cries 
for help. Sam, who was one of the most powerful Indians I 


ever saw, was * punishing a nigger ' who happened to be of 
the party ; with one hand he had firmly grasped the back 
of the breeches-band of the black man, and had twisted 
this romid so tightly that the poor wretch was almost cut 
in two. 

Sam sturdily maintained that he had received orders from 
his master for this outrageous conduct, and on inquiry, it 
turned out that he had dreamed this. JVIany similar stories 
might be added, but enough has been said to illustrate the 
firm belief of the Indian in the separability of the spirit fi-om 
the body during sleep. It must be noted that this belief 
extends not only to the idea that the spirit of the dreamer 
leaves him and does various acts, but also to the idea that 
the spirits of others with whom the dreamer fancies he meets 
in his sleep are really, not merely subjectively, present. For 
the Indian who wakes in the night with loud cries and asser- 
tions that he is being beaten by some enemy, is not convinced 
of the fallacy of his belief by the fact that his enemy is 
obviously not present, and could not have disappeared under 
the circumstances, but explains that it was not the body but 
the spirit of his enemy which did the harm. And he gene- 
rally silently or in words adds a threat of vengeance on the 
body of the supposed culprit. 

There is yet a third way in which the Indian sees the 
spirit leave the body. Visions are to him when awake what 
dretims are to, him when asleep, and the .creartures of his 
visions seem in no way difierent from those or his dreams. 
A distinction may be here drawn between natural visions, 
those, that is, which appear to a man in consequence^of the 
abnormal condition in which his body happens accidentally 
to be at the moment, and artificial visions, that is, those 
which appear in consequence of the abnormal bodily condi- 
tion into which he has brought himself by such means as 
fasting, stimulants, or narcotics, for the express purpose of 
experiencing visions. Innumerable instances of 'natural 
visions are recorded from other parts of the world where the 
reality of vision-life is believed ; and, judging by analogy, 


such must occur among the Indians of Guiana. The follow- 
ing, which came within my own experience, seems almost 
certainly a case of the kind. One morning in 1878, when 1 
was living in a Macusi settlement, some Indians of the same 
tribe came from a neighbouring settlement with the extra- 
ordinary request that I would lend them guns and go with 
them to attack some Arecunas of a settlement some twenty-five 
miles distant. Though there is an unusually strong feeling 
of hostility between the Macusis and Arecunas, this request 
seemed to me, remembering how peaceful the Indians now 
generally are, very strange. It was explained that a certain 
man named Tori, one of the suppliants, had a day or two 
previously been sitting alone on the savannah, outside his 
house, when, looking up from the arrow-head which he was 
fashioning, he saw some Arecunas, whom he knew by sight, 
and who belonged to the village against which war was now 
to be waged, standing over him with uplifted war-clubs, as 
if about to strike him down. According to the account given 
by Tori, his shouts brought his own people out from their 
houses, but by that time the Arecunas had vanished without 
eflfecting any harm. The story was utterly incredible to 
me ; but after much cross-examination it was evident that 
Tori himself believed it, and I, can only suppose that it was a 
case of a natural vision believed in as a reality. Artificial 
visions, on the other hand, axe very frequent in Indian life, 
especially and perhaps only in one way. The peaiman, as 
has been described elsewhere, undergoes a long training of 
fasting and solitude, of stimulants and narcotics, in order to 
be able to raise himself at any ipoment into the ecstatic 
condition in which he is able to send his spirit where he 
will, to hold communion with other spirits. That the peai- 
man himself believes in this separation and departure of his 
spirit, would not be easy to prove ; but after much inquiry 
from these practitioners, I am fully persuaded that in this, 
as in so many similar cases, the peaiman certainly partly 
believes, partly perhaps feigns to believe, in his own practice. 
But— and this is the important part — that the other Indians 


believe in the departure of the spirit of the peaiman is cer- 
tain. That it is the spirit, not the body, of the man which 
is supposed to depart was made very plain to me in this 
way. On being assured that the peaiman in his practice 
passed up and outward through the roof, I expressed scepti- 
cism, and asked to be allowed to fasten one end of a thread 
to the body of the peaiman, to hold the other in my hand, 
in order that, though because of the darkness I could not see 
the ascent, I might by means of the thread be satisfied of 
its occurrence. The answer, which was given quite naturally, 
was that the body remained and that . it was ^ something 
inside him ' which went up. Thus the peaiman when he 
communicates with spirits does this through his own spirit 
separated from his body. 

Another feature in the practice of the peaiman throws 
some light on this conception of the reality of events appa- 
rently experienced during artificial excitement, by showing 
that the beings, whether patients or kenaimas, with whom 
the peaiman holds converse are communicated with as 
spirits separated from their proper bodies. I have elsewhere 
described the state to which I myself was reduced by the 
practice of a peaiman as akin to mesmeric trance; but it 
may equally well be compared to the state, known by 
experience to most men, in which man sometimes lies, 
between sleeping and waking, conscious and able to think 
somewhat rationally, yet either wholly unconscious of the 
existence of his body, or, even if conscious of this, wholly 
unable to produce any effect upon it by volition. It now 
seems to me that my spirit was then as nearly separated 
from my body as is possible imder any other circumstances 
short of death. Thus it appears that the eflForts of the 
peaiman were directed partly to the separation of his own 
spirit from his body, and partly to the separation of the spirit 
from the body of his patient, and that in this way spirit 
holds conmiunion with spirit. 

It may fedrly, therefore, be assumed that JLhe Indian 
believes not only in the existence of a spirit within the 


' J 



human body, but also in the separation, voluntary or in- 
voluntary of these two parts. 

The next feature to be noted in Indian belief is that the 
spirit may be passed from the body of its proper owner into 
that of any animal, or even into any inanimate object. We 
have seen that the kenaima, while following his victim, does 
not necessarily keep his human shape, tut often assumes the 
form of some animal, usually a jaguar, or, as it is commonly 
called, a tiger. The expression * kenaima-tiger ' is often heard 
from Indian lips ; and again and again an Indian has been 
heard to say, *I can kill a tiger, but how shall I kill a 
kenaima-tiger ? ' It has also been noticed that the object 
which the peaiman extracts from the body of his patient, 
which is said to be the cause of the disease — be it animate or 
inanimate, be it for instance, caterpillar, stick, or stone — is a 
kenaima ; that is to say, it is the bodily form into which the 
spirit of the kenaima has passed in order to penetrate into 
his victim. It is evident, therefore, that a person may pass 
his spirit into a body not his own. Yet a reservation must 
be here made. No Indian, unless, possibly, a peaiman, 
believes that he himself is able at will thus to pass his spirit 
into another body, but he does believe that other men have 
this power. The transmission of the spirit seems to him 
something uncanny, something only to be done voluntarily, 
either by a kenaima, or by a peaiman to counteract the evil 
working of the kenaima. In this belief is exhibited some 
little natural logic. The Indian is never himself conscious 
of sending his spirit into another body — though, by the way, 
such cases of self-deception have been noted from other parts 
of the world — and he therefore believes that he has not the 
power ; but on the other hand he sees certain animals which 
he has reason to believe are men in disguise, and therefore, 
knowing how loosely spirits are attached to bodies, he sup- 
poses that other men know how to acquire the power, 
denied to him, of transmitting their spirits into what bodies 
they will. 

So far we have examined Indian animism only as far as it 


is exhibited in a belief of the existence of spirits of men, of 
the separability of these spirits, as displayed in the case of 
all men, of the power of these spirits to wander away from 
their proper bodies, and of the power which some men have 
of transmitting their spirits to other bodies. But the fact 
that I began by speaking of the spirits of men, was only 
because man, whether he be Indian or other, naturally 
begins by thinking about himself; ,nor must the fact be 
understood to indicate that the Indian sees any sharp line 
of distinction, such as we see, between man and other 
animals, between one kind of animal and another, or between 
animals — man included — and inanimate objects. On the 
contrary, to the Indian, all objects, animate and inanimate, 
seem exactly of the same nature except that they differ in 
the accident of bodily form. Every object in the whole world 
is a being, consisting of a body and spirit, and differs from 
every other object in no respect except that of bodily form, 
and in the greater or less degree of brute power and brute 
cunning consequent on the difference of bodily form and 
bodily habits. Our next step, therefore, is to note that 
animals, other than men, and even inanimate objects, have 
spirits which differ not at all in kind from those of men. 

Fully to realise this entirely natural conception of 
primitive man, the civilised student must make a great 
effort, and must forget for a time all that science from its 
origin to the present day has taught of the difference 
between man and other animals. It is very difficult for us to 
realise the Indian conception even of this identity in every- 
thing but bodily form of men and other animals ; and it is 
still more difficult to realise that the Indian conception is 
wider even than this, in that it knows of no difference, except 
again in bodily form, between animate and inanimate objects. 

The very phrase * men and other animals,' or even, as it is 
often expressed, * men and animals,' based as it is on the supe- 
riority which civilised men feel over other animals, expresses a 
dichotomy which is in no degree recognised by the Indian. 
The only dichotomy recognised by him is * myself, that is 


the only thing I know, and the rest of the world, whicli is 
all unknown to me.' It is, therefore, most important to 
realise both how comparatively small really is the diflfer- 
enee between men in a state of savagery and other animals, 
and how completely even such difference as exists escapes 
the notice of savage men. 

In skill, in cunning, in courage, in social morality, which 
is based on fear and not on any knowledge of right, in all 
except bodily form — and the difference in that is not greater 
between man and other animals than it is between almost 
any two classes of these other animals — there really is no 
great difference between man in a state of savagery and 
animals, regarded class for class. And that the uncivilised 
man should overlook the real difference, i.e. the mental 
potentialities, is natural. It must be remembered that almost 
every Indian understands the ways and cunning of other 
animals round about him far better than civilised men, even 
than the few learned in such matters, even guess them ; and 
on the other hand, the real differences, the mental poten- 
tialities, are just such as entirely escape the notice of the 
uncivilised man. To the ear of the savage, animals cer- 
tainly seem even to talk. This fact is universally evident, 
and ought to be fully realised. In Longfellow's wonderful 
medley of ethnological lore, the child Hiawatha, 

When he heard the owls at midnight, 

Hooting, laughing in the forest, 

* What is that ? * he cried in terror ; 

And the good Nokomis answered : 
> * That is but the owl and owlet 
^ Talking in their native language, 

Talking, scolding at each other.' 

But the complete identification in this as in all qualities 
of men and other animals is perhaps most strikingly illus- 
trated in Joel Chandler Harris's recently published folk-lore 
stories of *Brer Eabbit,'* in which ^Aiiss Meadows en de 
girls wuz in de tale ' without the slightest shade of human 

' VheU Bemui : or, Mr, Fox, Mr. Eahbit, and Mr. Terrapin, by Joel 
Chandler Harris. London and New York, 1881. 


difference distinguishiiig them from the other non-human 
actors. In Guiana countless Indian stories, fully believed, 
introduce the sayings of animals; and though the individual 
Indian knows that he no longer understands the language of 
the beasts and birds around him, yet he attaches but little 
weight to this, in that he is constantly meeting with other 
Indians of one or other of the many alien tribes which surround 
him, who speak languages at least as unintelligible to him as 
are those of birds or beasts ; and in that, as he is fully per- 
suaded, he constantly hears the peaiman still converse with 
birds and beasts. The whole belief is well illustrated in a 
curious custom which often came under my notice. Before 
leaving a temporary camp in the forest, where they have 
killed a tapir and dried the meat on a babracot, Indians 
invariably destroy this babracot, saving that should a tapir, 
passing that way, find traces of the slaughter of one of his 
kind, he would come by night on the next occasion when 
Indians slept at that place and, taking a man, would babra- 
cot him in revenge. It is npt, therefore, too much to say 
that, according to the view of the Indians, other animals 
differ from men only in bodily form and in their various 
degrees of strength. And they differ in spirit not at all ; 
for just as the Indian sees in the separation which takes 
place at death or in dreams proof of the existence of a spirit 
in man, so in this same death-analysis of body and spirit — 
all other qualities being in his view much the same in men 
and other animals — he sees proof of the existence in each 
other animal of a spirit similar to that of man. 

Nor is it only real animals that are regarded as identical 
in all points, except that of mere bodily form, with men. 
In a chapter on folk-lore, mention will be made of various 
animals which civilised man knows to be fabulous. Perhaps 
the nature of these beings is best made clear by saying that 
they correspond very closely to the dragons, unicorns, and 
griffins, and to the homed, hoofed, and tailed devils of our 
own folk-lore. Of this kind, in Guiana, is the di-di, or 
water-mama, a being with a body not well described, who 


lives under water ; the (yma/r, a similar being, who also lives 
under water, with a body said sometimes to be like that of 
a gigantic fish, sometimes like that of a huge crab, and 
again at other times to be of various other forms; and 
there are many other beings of this class, not clearly dis- 
tinguishable to us. The one common quality which these 
animals have for us is that they are all fabulous and non- 
existent. But our knowledge of this fact is derived entirely 
from science. The Indian, being without even the rudi- 
ments of scientific thought, believes as fully in the real 
existence of an animal as impossible as was ever fabled, as he 
does in that of animals most usual to him. In short, to the 
Indian the only difference between these monstrous animals 
and those most familiar to him, is that, while he has seen the 
latter, he has not himself seen the former, though he has 
heard of them from others. These monstrous animals, in 
short, are regarded as on exactly the same level as regards 
the possession of body and spirits as are all other animals. 

It is somewhat more difficult to realise the Indian belief 
in the spirits of insinimate objects, such as plants, stones, and 
rivers. Perhaps the belief in the spirits of plants is merely 
an extension of the same belief as concerning animals : there 
is a vitality in plants which disappears at death, and serves as 
some evidence of .the presence of a spirit. There cannot be 
the same reason for belief in the spirits of such lifeless things 
as rocks or stones. It. might be thought that this bodily 
motionlessness would prevent any conception of the possession 
of spirits by such objects. But, in the first place, this absence 
of motion is less striking to tl^e Indian mind than it would 
otherwise be, owing to the fact that comparison, if made at all, 
would be made, not directly between animals, with perfectly 
firee powers of bodily motion, and stocks and stones, with no 
such power of motion, but indirectly through plants, which 
are intermediate in this respect, in that the sway of their 
branches gives them the appearance of some small power of 
bodily motion. Moreover, the Indian, always reasoning in 
the first place from what he knows of himself, remembers 

A A 


thaty as, for example, in dreams, his own spirit movefl with 
complete activity even when his body lies motionless ; and 
he therefore sees no reason to doabt that the spirit within 
the motionless rock has the power of activity also. And, in 
the second place, the activity of this spirit of the rock is 
proved to his cost in various practical ways. The Indian is 
occasionally hurt either by falling on a rock, or by the rock 
falling upon him; and in either case he attributes the 
blame, by a line of argument still not uncommon in more 
civilised life, to the rock. In £ict, he attributes any calamity 
which may happen to him to the intention of the immediate 
instrument of its infliction, and he not .^nnatu^lly sees in 
the action of this instrument evidence of its possession of a 
spirit. Then he carries this line of argument yet further : 
if his eye falls upon a rock in any way abnormal or curious, 
and if shortly after any evil happens to him, he regards 
rock and evil as cause and effect ; and here again he per- 
ceives in the rock a spirit. As it is with rocks so it is with 
other inanimate objects: the belief in their possession of 
a spirit probably originates not in their evident vitality, but 
in the vitality which is presumed to exist in them from their 
supposed actions. But, whatever its origin, the fact of the 
belief is certain. In very dry seasons, when the water in the 
rivers is low, the rocks in their beds are seen to have a 
curious glazed, vitrified, and black appearance, due probably 
to dex)08it8 of iron and manganese. Whenever I questioned 
the Indians about these rocks, I was at once silenced by the 
assertion that any allusion to their appearance would vex 
these rocks and cause them to send misfortune. Again in 
mid-stream in the Essequibo river there is the curiously 
fihai)ed rock called paiwarv-kaira^ the upper part of which is 
very large but rests upon a small pillar-like base. Not only 
do the Indians allow no mention of this rock to be made, lest 
it should be vexed, but they will not even look at it, nor, if they 
can prevent, allow others to look. Again, all the many sculp- 
tured rocks are objects of this awe. It is unnecessary to mul- 
tiply instances, further than by saying that almost every rock 


»pen for the first time, and any rock which is in any way 
abnormal whenever seen, is believed to consist of body and 
spirit. And not only many rocks, but also many waterfaUs, 
streams, and indeed material bodies of every sort, are sup- 
posed to consist each of a body and a spirit as does man ; 
and that not all inanimate objects have this dual nature 
avowedly attributed to them, is probably only due to the 
chance that, while all such objects may at any time, in any 
of the ways above indicated, show signs of the presence of a 
spirit; within them, this spirit has not as yet been noticed 
in some cases. 

But, after all, such arguments as those given above, by 
which it seems probable that a savage man strengthens his 
belief in the presence of spirits in all objects, are not primi- 
tive. The primitive habit of thought is of a much more 
simple and natural kind. It must have been acquired by the 
Indian, not by asking himself whether the objects around 
him were animate, but rather by his never doubting that, like 
himself— that is, like the only object known to him by personal 
experience — ^all other objects had bodies and spirits. In fact, 
the really primitive idea naturally would be that all objects 
are animate. And only then, as scepticism began to grow 
and primitive man began to question whether stones have 
spirits and power of action, then the more orthodox and con- 
servative probably strengthened their faith in the old belief 
by such arguments as those given above -concerning the 
apparent action of stones. 

By some observers among these and other tribes in a 
parallel stage of civilisation, it has been supposed that all 
diseases are also personified and regarded as possessed of 
spirits, just as are material bodies, animate and inanimate. 
But it seems to me that, at least in Gruiana, this is not quite 
the case. It is true that the peaiman in removing a disease 
from a patient removes a body, the nature of which has before 
been described, in which the spirit which caused the disease 
is supposed to be ; and it is also true that diseases are be- 
lieved to move about the world much as do men. As a 

▲ ▲ 2 


cturioQS instance of the belief in this latter power of diseases, 
it may be mentioned that, as Mr. Brett has told,' in 1856, 
when a horrible epidemic known locaUy as bnck-sickness, 
attacked the Indians on the Pomeroon river, the True Caribs 
fled from the settlements far into the forest, and in so doing 
cut down large trees to obstruct the paths behind them. A 
similar notion of disease walking along a path, and of the 
possibility of preventing its so doing, has been noticed among 
many other people.' In this connection it must be noted 
that it is a common habit among the Indians of Cruiana to 
obstruct in a similar way the paths which they are in the 
habit of using, to prevent dangerous animals, such as jaguars, 
or even hostile men, from usitig them. It seems to me that 
these diseases are ^not distinct beings, but rather forms, 
visible or invisible, assumed by the spirits of kenaimas, who, 
as has been explained elsewhere, are capable of throwing 
their^ spirits into . any body they please. When, therefore, a 
disease-spirit situated in the bodily form of a stick or stone 
is removed from the flesh of an invalid, this bodily form is 
only one of an' infinitely variable number which the kenaima 
is able to assume ; and when a forest path is blocked against 
the advance of a disease, it is blocked against the bodily 
form of a malicioils kenaima. In other words, diseases are 
not, I think, distinctly personified. 

The Indian, therefore, believes that every object per- 
ceptible to his senses has, or may have, a body and a spirit; 
and he sees no difference in this respect between man and 
other objects, all being to him equally natural— or, in other 
words, no idea of that which we call the supernatural being 
known to him. Thus the whole world of the Indian swarms 
with these beings. If by a mighty mental effort we could 
for a moment revert to a similar mental position we should 
find ourselves everywhere surroimded by a host of possibly 
hurtful beings, so many in number that to describe them as 
innumerable would fall ridiculously short of the truth. It is 
not therefore wonderful that the Indian fears to move beyond 

> W. H. Brett's Indian Tribes qf Oui4ma, p. 226. London. 
• K. B. Tylor*s Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 179, etpat. 


the light of his camp-fire after dark, or, if he is obliged to 
do so, carries a fire-brand with him that he may at least see 
among what enemies he walks; nor is it wonderful that 
occasionally the air round the settlement seems to the 
Indian to grow so fall of beings, that a peaiman, who is 
supposed to have the power of temporarily driving them 
away, is employed to effect a general clearance of these 
beings, if only for a time. 

That is the main belief, of the kind that is generally 
called religious, of the Indians of Gruiana ; and it is the same 
entirely pure form of animism which, as other comparative 
researches, into which it is impossible to enter here, show, 
has almost certainly been held by every people at some time 
during their earliest stages of civilisation; and this same 
form of animism is the earliest recognisable rudiment from 
which, by subsequent mo4ifications and development, all 
higher forms of religion have grown. It will perhaps be 
easiest to proceed by examining how far the chief of 
these modifications are discernible among the Indians of 
Guiana. The chief modifications, throughout the world, are : 
(1) Acknowledgment of the everlasting, as distinguished 
from the merely continued, existence of the spirit after the 
destruction of the body ; (2) a belief in a separate place of 
abode for the spirit when separated fi'om the body, and, in 
close connection with this, a belief in the reward or punish- 
ment of the spirit for the good or evil deeds which it did 
when in the body ; (3) a belief, which has arisen but very 
gradually, in higher spirits, and eventually in a highest spirit ; 
and (4), keeping pace with the growths of these beliefs, a 
habit of reverence for, and worship of, spirits. 

All these developments of animism appear in various 
early stages of civilisation and grow as the people advance in 
other matters. Hardly any of them, however, appear to have 
yet made much advance among the Indians of Guiana ; 
though it is just possible that these have at some past time 
advanced among the ancestors of the present Indians to a 
point somewhat beyond that to which they have now reverted. 


Though improbable, it is quite intelligible, for example, that 
these people may have attained a somewhat higher concep- 
tion of religion, which their descendants have again lost. 
When, therefore, I speak of the religious belief and practice 
of the Indians, I must be understood to refer only to the 
present form of these matters, which, after all, is hardly 
likely to be very much lower than it ever was. 

The remainder of this chapter will be devoted to an at- 
tempt to discover what advance, if any, from simple animism is 
trac;eable among the Indians of Guiana. It is as well here 
to state the fact that the key to the whole matter may be 
provided by remembering that these Indians look on the 
spirit world as exactly parallel to, or more properly as a part 
of, the material world known to them. Spirits, like material 
beings, differ from each other only, if the phrase is allowed, 
in their varying degrees of brute force and l^rute cunning, 
and none are distinguished by the possession of anything 
like divine attributes. Indians, therefore, regard disem- 
bodied spirits not otherwise than the beings still in the body 
whom they see around them. 

The first advance from the simplest animism consists in 
the recogiiition of the everlasting eidstence of the spirit after 
the destruction of the body. The merely continued existence^ 
of this spirit is implied in simple animism. After death, as 
we have seen, the spirit appears in dreams to the survivors, 
and it is therefore believed still to exist. Confirmation of 
the existence of this belief is to be found in the custom of 
the Indians, elsewhere described, of burying their dead in the 
houses of the deceased, and then deserting these houses^ that 
the spirit of the dead man may use his former dwelling 
without interference from. the presence of his surviving re- 
latives; farther confirmation is afforded by the fact that 
various necessaries, but especially the hammock, the one 
chief necessary of life to the Indian, are buried with the dead 
for their future use ; and perhaps the strongest confirmation 
of all is to be found in the stories which Indians tell of the 
existence and actions of their dead ancestors. On the whole» 


the belief in the after-existence of the spirit may be taken 
for granted. But no attempt is made to realise the duration of 
this after-death existence of the spirit. As long as the memory 
of a dead man survives, either in the minds of his former 
companions or in tradition, he is supposed to exist ; but no 
question as to whether this existence is or is not to be pro- 
longed for ever has ever been formulated in the Indian mind. 
It is not till a considerably higher stage of civilisation is 
attained than that at which these Indians are, that the 
memory of certain dead men surviving practically for ever, 
recognition is made of the everlasting existence of spirits, 
by a natural expansion of the earlier belief in continued 

A belief in the reward or punishment of spirits after death 
for the good or evil which they did when in the body, is 
created only by religion at the moment when it begins to 
absorb and enforce morality; and as this stage has by no 
means been reached by the Indians of Guiana, this particular 
belief does not concern us here. 

The spirit continuing to exist after the destruction of the 
body, the question naturally arises as to what place Indians 
believe such disembodied beings to occupy. This question, 
when worked out during many ages by the methods of 
higher religion, finds its answer in heaven and hell ; but 
Indians, having yet hardly begun to ask themselves this 
question, usually think of spirits as remaining disembodied 
on earth in the places in which they lived when in the body. 
Sometimes there seems to be some idea of a transmigration 
of the spirit into a new body. This must not be confused 
with the temporary transmission, elsewhere described, by a 
living being — for instance, by a kenaima— of his spirit into 
some body not his own. Several times I was told by Indians 
that they hoped to become white* men, apparently in the 
sense that their spirits after death would reanimate the bodies 
of white men. Appun, who travelled in Cruiana, reports 
a curious story which he heard from the Arecunas near 
Boraima, which, even if untrue, is at least often repeated, 


tliough with considerable variation, by other Indians. Once 
upon a time, they told him, a great peaiman named Becka- 
ranta, called all the Indians together to the neighbourhood 
of Roraima, with the secret ' purpose of making himself 
their chief. To carry out his purpose he found it necessary 
to get rid of large numbers of the more powerful men. 
Having therefore made all drink deeply of paiwari, he then 
announced that if certain of those present were killed they 
would revive after some days as. white men. The result 
was a slaughter in which friend ,tried to benefit friend by 
killing him. The end of the story is that, after waiting in 
vain for some days for the return of the dead, the peaiman 
was himself killed by the survivors. This story may be, 
probably is, untrue, or at least greatly exaggerated, but the 
fact that it is told at all seems to indicate a very strong 
belief in the possibility of a transmigration of spirit. In 
these cases the spirit is, of course, supposed to remain on 
earth. The same idea is implied in such facts as that of the 
giving up of houses to the use of the spirits of dead men 
who once lived in them. Yet Indians have some idea of a 
place above the sky — * a heaven floored upon a firmament.' * 
In several of the legends which form their folklore there is 
mention of such a place. For instance, the Caribs say that 
they arrived in Guiana from sky-land through a hole. It is 
important to realise the idea which the Indian holds of this 
place. This is just one of the cases in which our own deeply 
engrained and popular notion of a heaven above the sky 
makes it difficult for us to realise the Indian conception. 
The Indian idea seems to me to be that beyond the sky, 
just as beyond the sea, there is, nothing akin to our heaven, 
but another country just such as that in which they live. 
Hunting is mentioned as a constant occupation there. The 
ordinary Indian knows that he cannot go beyond the sea, 
yet he occasionally sees other men come thence, and he 
hears from them of lands beyond those waters impassable to 
him. Just so, he sees an apparently firm sky, separated by 

* E. B. Tjlor, Primitire Culture, vol. ii. p. 69. 


an ocean of air impassable to him, and to which he does not 
know the way, but to which he sees birds go, and even, as he 
thinks, he sees the spirits of his peaimen go. Above the 
sky he thinks, therefore, that there is a country attainable 
under certain conditions. Their ancestors came perhaps 
from that; country by climbing down by a rope from the 
sky-land, perhaps from the islands by ci^ossing the sea in 
canoes. Either way of travelling appears equally probable 
to them — either ancestral country equally natural. It is to 
be noted that the country beyond the sky is more often 
mentioned as that from which men come than as that to 
which men go; but, on the other hand, the spirits of indi- 
viduals among their hero ancestors are sometimes said by 
the Indians to have gone to this place, sometimes said to 
have gone to the* islands, just as individual Indians in the 
body occasionally travel away from their tribes and are heard 
of and seen no more. In either case the method of travelling 
is not by apotheosis, but by such natural means as are used 
indifferently by beings, whether encumbered by bodies or 
not — in short, the Indian knows of no heaven, but only of 
other countries. The whole matter — that is, both the con- 
ception of the Indian of the place of the spirit after death, 
and the difficulty which civilised man has found in under- 
standing this conception, may be made more clear, by ex- 
amining a passage by Rochefort, in which, writing of the 
Caribs of the West Indies, the ancestors of the True Caribs 
and of certain other tribes in Guiana, he says that their brave 
men would live after death in happy islands, where their 
enemies the Arawaks would be their slaves; but that the 
cowards of their own tribe would, on the contrary, serve the 
Arawaks as slaves in a barren land beyond the mountains.^ 
This, as told by Rochefort, certainly seems at first sight to 
indicate not only a belief in a * heaven ' for all spirits, but 
also a belief, which I have already denied of the Indians, in 
retribution after death for conduct which is, according to 

> Rochefort, lies Antilles, p. 430; quoted by E. B. Tylor, Primitive 
Culture, voL ii. p. 79. 


the Indian standard, virtuous and vicious — that is to say, for 
bravery or cowardice. A little investigation makes the 
matter appear in an entirely different light. Bochefort 
wrote of a time when the Caribs were already, as £Eur as 
Indians were concerned, in complete possession of the West 
Indian Islands, and the Arawaks lived on the main l and the 
mountains of which were visible from Trinidad. According 
to some accounts the Arawaks had been driven to the main- 
land from their former homes in the islands by these very 
Caribs. It is at least certain that the Caribs were in the 
habit of making hostile raids into the country of the Arawaks 
on the mainland, and that great mutual hostility and the 
habit of enslaving each other prevailed between these two 
tribes. Moreover, the dry, beautiful islands, might then as 
now be loosely described as indeed fertile in comparison with 
the flat swampy belt which lies on the mainland between 
the mountains and the sea. When, therefore, the Carib said 
that if he were brave in this life he would after death live, 
with Arawaks for slaves, in fertile islands, he spoke re- 
membering how in previous raids on the mainland he had 
by his bravery captured Arawaks and brought them as slaves 
to his own happy islands ; and when he said that, if he were 
a coward, he would after death live beyond the mountains, 
a slave to some Arawak, he spoke remembering the fate of 
perhaps some companion on his raids, who, having fought 
not well, was himself captured and retained as a slave by the 
Arawaks. In short, in describing his notion of future life, 
he was only describing exactly the state of things, among 
exactly the same scenes, to which he was accustomed in this 

It may be added, that though the Indians have no notion 
of a heaven, and regard the place beyond the sky as merely 
another country, this knowledge of a country beyond the 
sky is probably the germ which, in a higher stage of thought 
than that attained by these people, develops, when the 
thinkers at last become puzzled by the fact that in the body 
they fail to find their way to that place beyond the sky, into 


a belief in its unearthly nature as a place which spirits only 
may attain. 

The point next to be considered is whether Indians 
believe in any hierarchy of spirits, such as that which forms 
so important a feature in the higher religions. There is 
nothing to indicate that the Indians know of any spirits 
except such as are, or once were, situated in material bodies 
of some kind ; and these differ in rank and power only as one 
man or one animal differs in these respects from another. 
That is to say, of all the beings that fill the world, none, 
whether they are spirits still in the body or spirits which 
have left their former bodies, have any authority over others 
except such as they can gain and keep by — if such a term 
may be applied to spirits — their^ greater brute force. As 
religion grows this early form of belief develops into a 
recognition of higher spirits and lower, until, in the highest 
form of religion, a belief in one supreme spirit is attained. 
But on this belief, at a very early stage in the transition 
which it thus makes, is engrafted the very important idea of 
spirits, many or few, which have always been spirits, and 
were never specially associated with any material body. 
Up to the point at which this new idea is engrafted it can- 
not be said that there is any belief in a spiritual hierarchy. 
The Indians of Guiana have not yet reached this point. 

The process by which the idea of a difference in the 
authoritative rank of spirits is attained seems to be by a 
generalisation of those spirits of equal power which form the 
earlier subjects of belief ; for example, the belief in a distinct 
spirit in each body of water — river, sea, rain, spring, or 
whatever its nature — passes by generalisation into a belief 
in one spirit powerful over all water. It will presently be 
shown that the Indians of Guiana have hardly made any 
advance even in this direction. The process by which the 
first idea is gained of gods — of beings, that is, who have always 
been spirits, is less easily explained ; but this is of little 
consequence here, in that all that it is necessary to show is 
that the Indians have not yet attained any such notion. 


It is indeed fully recognised in Guiana that some spirits 
are more to be feared than others. But this is only because 
some excel in physical power and cunning. For instance, 
the spirits of all rocks are supposed to be capable of harm ; 
but again and again I have found cases, as, for example, the 
rock Paiwarikaira and the sculptured rocks already men- 
tioned, in which the Indians possessed special dread of 
certain particular spirit-possessed rocks. But these rocks 
are deemed more malicious than others. The matter may 
be made quite clear in this way : Not only every river, but 
also every bend and portion of a river, has a spirit, and 
though all these are regarded as possibly harmful, in that 
Indians have been drowned even in still water, yet those of 
these spirits which belong to the falls, rapids, or cataracts 
are especially dreaded, in that Indians have been much more 
frequently drowned in such places. In short, though some 
spirit? are thus especially harmful, there is no notion of any 
that have definite authority over any other spirits in general. 

tt has been presumed that traces of a belief in spirits 
with definite authority, as distinguished from brute power, 
over others have been found, among other peoples, in a 
sun-spirit, a moon-spirit, a water-spirit, and so on. Traces 
of these last-named spirits may perhaps be found in Gruiana. 
On one occasion, during an eclipse of the sun, the Arawak 
men among whom I happened to be rushed firom their 
houses with loud shouts and yells. They explained that 
a fight, was going on between the sun and moon, and 
that they, shouted to frighten, and so part the combatants. 
In many other countries exactly this proceeding of making 
a noise to separate the sun-spirit and the moon-spirit, or 
the sun-god and the moon-god, has been noticed ; and it is 
generally supposed that in such cases a high degree of 
authority is attributed to these spirits. But I see nothing 
in this or in anything else which shows that savages dis- 
tinguish, by attributing greater authority to them, such 
beings as sun and moon, and very many other natural phe- 
nomena, as wind and storms, from men and other animals, 

NO GOD. 365 

plants and other inanimate objects, or from any other beings 
whatsoever. All beings — and under this heading are in- 
eluded all personified natural phenomena — are, in fact, of the 
same kind, each with a body and a spirit. It is the old 
story — ^they dififer from each other only that some are more 
powerful than others in the mere matter of brute force, and 
none have any other sort of authority over others. 

It is true that when rain falls at an inopportune time, 
or when a sudden flood arises, the Arawak occasionally 
inveighs against a being called (Eniddu. They are unable 
to explain exactly who this being is, but he is apparently 
only that particular body of water, be it flood or rain, which 
happens to be under notice at the moment. Here is 
probably a germ which might develop, when the identity of 
water in its various forms is recognised, into a belief in a 
being having power over all water, and thus would first be 
attained a belief in an authoritative spirit. Though this 
latter belief does not seem yet to have been attained in 
Guiana, it must be added that in this matter, if anywhere, 
the Indians may have reverted to a point of belief below that 
at which they once were. 

If there is no belief in a hierarchy of spirits, there can of 
course be none in any such beings as in higher religions are 
called gods — beings, that is, who have not only authority 
over others, but who have also always been spirits, unless 
when temporarily and for their own purposes they put them- 
selves into bodies ; and who in some, if not in all, cases, had 
some share in the creation of the world. It is true that 
various words have been found in all, or nearly all, the 
languages, not only of Guiana, but also of the whole world, 
which have been supposed to be names of a great spirit, 
supreme being, or god, in the sense which those phrases bear 
i^ the language of the higher religions. In Guiana, their 
names, as frur as they are known to me, are — 

r-. p ., / Tamosi =« ' the ancient one.' 
iTue ^"iDS^ j^j^^g. kabotano-'theancientoneinthesky.' 

^*^'" ^""^ ] Ackawoi ; Mackonaima-? 

tMacasi kutti (probably only Macusi-Datch for * Grod *)• 


r Wa murreta kwonci « * our maker. 
Arawak < Wa cinaci = * our father.' 

t Ifilici wacinaci » < our great father.' 
Warrau f Kononatoo = • oar maker. ' 

Wapiana \ Tomingatoo » ? 

It will be seen that of these I am only able to explain the 
exact logical meaning of the two True Carib words, of the 
Arawak word, and of the Warrau word. In these only three 
ideas are expressed — (1) One who liv^dlong ago and is now 
in sky-land ; (2) the maker of the Indians ; and (3) their 
father. Now none of these ideas in any way involve the 
attributes of a god. On the contrary, they all point rather 
to a conception, which is certainly present in all Indian 
minds, that their remote ancestors, of whom they are ac- 
customed to speak as their fathers or, by a very natural 
figure of speech, their makers, came into their present homes 
from some other country, which is sometimes said to be that 
entirely natural coimtry which is separated from Guiana by 
the ocean of the air. And when, sometimes, these same 
ancestors are said still to exist in that other place which I 
can only call sky-land, this probably only means that these 
spirits have recrossed the same ocean and gone back to the 
old country. Thus these supposed gods are really but the 
remembered dead of each trjbe ; and where there is men- 
tion of one great spirit or god, it is merely the chief tra- 
ditional founder of the tribe. It must be remembered that 
these names were first noted by missionaries, and were eagerly 
seized upon by them, and used to express the God whom 
they preached. The names have, therefore, to some extent 
acquired a sense which the missionaries thus imparted to 
them. While, therefore, it seems to me that there is nothing 
to show the existence of a genuine Indian word for a 
genuine Indian idea of that which we call God — ^while, that 
is, there is nothing to suggest an affirmative answer to the 
question, whether Indians have any idea of a God — there is 
this to suggest a negative answer to the same question, 
namely, that the conception of a God is not only totally 
foreign to Indian habits of thought, but belongs to a much 


higher stage of intellectual development than any attained 
by them. To repeat what has been said, perhaps, wearisomely 
often already, there are, according to Indian belief, no spirits 
but such as are, or originally were, embodied in material 
bodies ; and no apotheosis has of these made gods or a God. 

Once more, however, in the idea of ancestral spirits still 
existing, is the germ which might under certain circum- 
stances develop into that leading conception of the higher 
religions which recognises one God, the creator and ruler of 

Yet one more subject claims mention in connection with 
Indian animism. The belief in spirits and the worship of 
these spirits by certain rites and ceremonies are two very 
different things, though the fact that in the higher religions 
the two are almost invariably found in very close association 
has induced civilised men to regard them as nearly insepar- 
able. Spirits may be regarded with indifference, as without 
power to affect men for good or evil, in which case they are 
not worshipped. Or they may be regarded either with dread 
as harmful, or with expectancy as beneficial, to man ; and in 
either of these cases various attentions are paid to them, to 
avert their ill-will or to attract their good-will, as the case 
may be. Or, lastly, spirits of the good kind may be regarded 
with gratitude for benefits received, and in that case also a 
worship of thanks may be paid to them. 

To understand the matter as it is exhibited in British 
Guiana, it is necessary to notice which of these attitudes the 
Indians hold toward spiritual beings. There are, the Indians 
think, harmless spirits and harmful; but while the latter 
are very active in exercise of their power of affecting men 
and other beings, the former are perfectly and entirely in- 
active in this respect. It is somewhat difficult to realise this 
Indian view. All that can be said of it is, that all the good 
that befalls him the Indian accepts either without inquiry as 
to its cause or as the result of his own exertions ; but, on the 
other hand, all the evils that befall him he regards as inflicted 
by malignant spirits. This being his state of mind, the 


Indian has no inducement to attract the good-will of spirits ; 
but he naturally so acts and so avoids action as to avert 
the ill-will of other spirits. For example, he is, as has been 
told, very careful not to mention, or even look at, certain 
rocks and other objects. He avoids eating the flesh of certain 
sorts of animals, possibly because these are supposed by him 
to be especially malignant. It is somewhat curious that in 
this way different tribes avoid different animals ; most tribes, 
for instance, refusing to eat the flesh of water-haas {Capy^ 
hwra) and sting-rays, though these are freely eaten by True 
Caribs. All tribes, however, agree in refusing to eat the 
flesh of such animals as are not indigenous to their country, 
but were introduced from abroad, such as oxen, sheep, ^oats, 
and fowls ; apparently on the principle, with which we have 
met before, that any strange and abnormal object is especi- 
ally likely to be possessed of a harmful spirit. It must, 
however, be added that, under great pressure of circum- 
stances, such as utter want of other food, these meats are 
occasionally rendered eatable by the simple ceremony of 
getting a peaiman, or even occasionally an old woman, to 
blow a certain number of times on them ; apparently on the 
principle that the spirit of the animal about to be eaten is 
thus expelled. But in connection with this subject one uni- 
versal and very common custom of the Indians of Guiana is 
chiefly noticeable. Before attempting to shoot a cataract for 
the first time, on first sight of any new place, and every time a 
sculptured rock or striking mountain or stone is seen, Indians 
avert the ill-will of the spirits of such places by rubbing red- 
peppers {Cwpsicwm) each in his or her own eyes. For instance, 
on reaching the Timehri rock on the Corentyn river, I at 
once began to sketch the figure sculptured thereon. Looking 
up the next moment I saw the Indians — men, women, and 
children — who accompanied me all grouped round the rock- 
picture, busily engaged in this painful operation of pepper- 
rubbing. The extreme pain of this operation when performed 
thoroughly by the Indians I can faintly realise from my own 
feelings when I have occasionally rubbed my eyes with 


fingers which had recently handled red-peppers; and from 
the fact that, though the older practitioners inflict this self- 
torture with the utmost stoicism, I have again and again seen 
that otherwise rare sight of Indians, children and even young 
men, sobbing under the infliction. Yet the ceremony was 
never omitted. Sometimes when by a rare chance no 
member of the party had had the forethought to provide 
peppers, lime-juice was used as a substitute ; and once, when 
neither peppers nor limes were at hand, a piece of blue 
indigo-dyed cloth was carefully soaked and the dye was then 
rubbed into the eyes. These, I believe, are the only cere- 
monies observed by the Indians. One idea underlies them 
all, and that is, the attempt to avoid attracting the attention 
of malignant spirits. 

Thus, if it is absolutely necessary to pass a rock or spite- 
ful cataract, the Indian avoids attracting the attention of this 
by mentioning it. This idea is further developed and ex- 
hibited in an attempt to make himself invisible to the 
dreaded object. Just as an ostrich, according to the old 
story, is said to bury its head in the sand and so to blind it- 
self to conceal its body from the hunters, so the Indian, if he 
can only avoid seeing the object dreaded by him, thinks that 
he himself is invisible to that object. To effect this purpose, 
he temporarily blinds himself with the juice of capsicums or 
other similar matter. This circumstance is further well illus- 
trated by the feict, which I often observed, that when after 
much difficulty I had persuaded Indians to stand in front of 
such a terrible object as a camera, to be photographed, they 
again and again defeated my purpose by clapping their hands 
over their eyes at the moment the cap of the apparatus was 
withdrawn, lest the terrible eye of the camera should see 
them. This is also exactly parallel to the action of young 
children all over the world, who clap their hands to their 
eyes in the presence of some object dreadful to them.* 

' This is another side of an Indian habit of thought before mentioned — 
I mean, of their belief in the reality of dreams. In the one case, that of 
sleep, thej think themselves present among snnoondings which have no 

B B 


In conclusion, the whole religions belief of these Indians 
may be shortly summed up thus : Not only every human 
being but every object perceptible to the senses consists of a 
body and a spirit ; the spirits of all these are separable from 
their bodies, both during life and at death; spirits thus 
separated after death continue to exist for an indefinite 
period upon earth; of spirits, both while associated with 
their bodies and after, some are malignant and active, others 
are entirely quiescent ; all spirits may be communicated 
with, not by the ordinary individual, but by the peaiman 
when in an ecstatic condition. This constitutes a very 
simple form of animism, which has no connection whatever 
with the Indian's code of morality. Yet in this animism 
there are germs which might develop in the direction of 
higher religion. For instance, the belief of the Indians of 
the continuance of the existence of the spirit for an indefinite 
period after the death of the body is the germ firom which 
might have developed a belief in the everlasting existence 
of the spirit. So, also, their knowledge of a country beyond 
the sky, difficult but not impossible of attainment by living 
man, is the germ from which might have developed a belief 
in a separate place for departed spirits. Their belief in the 
existence of a separate spirit in each portion of any natural 
phenomenon, for example in every portion of water, might 
eventually pass into a belief in one spirit supreme over that 
phenomenon; and this would originate a recognition of 
spirits with authority over other spirits. Lastly, their belief 
in ancestral spirits is a germ from which might spring a 
belief in the existence of gods or even of a God. 

Finally, the great lesson to be learned from a study of 
Indian animism is that the very pure form in which it 
exists in Guiana, common to a very large number of Red- 
men elsewhere, is much more primitive than has yet been 
suspected by most students of religious evolution. 

real existence but are only the circnmstances of a dream, becanse thej 
see or fancy they see themselves among these surroundings ; in the other 
case, when they shut their eyes to avoid certain objects, they think thenq* 
selves not present among the surroundings in which they really are, because 
they do not see them. 




Genend Statement of the Nature of the Folk-lore — Elements of Error in 
reading the Folk-lore of Savages — Examples of such Error regarding 
God, Prayer, a Belnge, and a World-fire — Mythological Legends— The 
Arrival of Indians upon Earth — The Origin of Cultivation — Animals and 
their Doings — Fanciful Explanations of the Facts of Nature — Fabled 
Animals — An Lidian Jonah — Historical Legends. 

Indians, as they lie at night in their hammocks, or squat 
round the fire with knees drawn up to chin, listen to endless 
tales, told sometimes by the peaiman, sometimes by the 
headman of the settlement, sometimes by the old women — 
who in this, as in other societies, are great tradition-mongers ; 
and these tales are always told with an amount of gesticula- 
tion, half seen and yet intensified in the fitful firelight, and 
with modification of the voice so varied that they have con- 
siderable dramatic interest even to a stranger, though ignorant 
of the language, who, on rare occasions, may happen to be 
present. Some few of these stories, which, in that they are 
handed down from generation to generation, may be con- 
veniently classed as folk-lore, I was able to gather, and a far 
larger number have been learned and told by my friend Mr. 
Brett,' to whom I am indebted for very much information 
on this subject. Many of the stories are of course in- 
timately connected with the subject of the last chapter, 
in which the religion of the Indians was described as a 
very extensive animism^as a recognition, that is, of the 
existence of a world full of non-supernatural beings, some of 

' Indian Tribes of Guiana^ by W. H. Brett, London; and Legends 
and Myths of the Aboriginal Indians of British Guiana, Same Author, 
London, 1879. 

B B 2 



which to U8 appear animate, as men and other animals, 
others inanimate, as trees and rocks, others to be natural 
phenomena, as winds and storms — ^but of which each alike 
appears to the Indian to be alive and to have both a ma- 
terial body and a spirit. Much of their folk-lore tells of the 
acts of these beings. Other of their folk-lore consists of a 
few half-remembered traditions of comparatively recent his- 
torical events, as of battles and war between the tribes. In 
the present chapter an attempt will be made to give* some 
idea of both of these phases of folk-lore, the mythological 
and the more purely historical. 

Before telling any tales of the former of these kinds some- 
thing must be said as to how far they are probably of genuine 
Indian origin ; for some of those which have been recorded 
have undoubtedly been much affected by European influence ; 
for example, in many of the tales there are points which in 
a very marked manner recall incidents belonging to Christian 
mythology, especially incidents of the Creation and of the 
Flood. It is not here necessary to make more than a passing 
allusion to the theory based upon these supposed common 
points, of the common descent of the Indians and of the rest 
of mankind from the actors of Genesis ; for these apparently 
common points Are themselves of very suspicious origin. It is 
true that they appear in the legends as the Indians them- 
selves tell them at the present day ; but it does not by any 
means follow from this that these details belonged to the 
tradition before the discovery of America. The Indian mind 
is like a highly polished mirror which reflects all that is 
shown it. If .we can imagine such an incident as a civilised 
man glancing for the first time into a mirror, we must re- 
member that at the first glance the man would Realise the 
exhibition, not of glass, quicksilver, and certain optical laws, 
but of a duplicate of himself. So the student of Indian 
thought at first is apt to see not such things as the Indian 
thinks, but such things as he, the student, thinks. A partial 
explanation of this is that the Indian, unlike the civilised 
">inan, knows nothing of the supernatural or impossible, and is 


fully prepared to believe in the existence of everything even 
that he has not seen ; so when told by the European of the 
facts, simple or complex, of Christian theology, he un- 
doubtingly and without the least mental eflFort assents to 
their existence. To test this I have often asked Indians as 
to the existence both of animals never seen in America, such 
as elephants, and of animals the most impossible that my im- 
agination could produce ; and the result invariably was that 
the Indian quietly assented to the existence of such animals, 
and that in many cases he was even prepared to describe the 
localities, to which, though near, he had never been, where 
such animals occur. In the same way there can be little 
doubt that the early explorers of America described the 
Amazons of the Old- World legends to the Indians, and learned 
from the latter that such fighting women existed in the New 
World. Again, in exactly the same way there can be little 
doubt that the early conquerors of America, who salved their 
consciences, whenever these were slightly disturbed by the 
knowledge of the cruelties which their owners practised upon 
the Indians, by proclaiming the mysteries of the most 
charitable of all religions, thus placed incidents of Christian 
tradition in the minds of these Indians. Such alien facts, 
even if they were unenforced by sword and fire, were un- 
hesitatingly accepted and engrafted on the Indian mind, and 
must have spread with a rapidity which will be appreciated 
fully only by those who by actual experience have realised 
the extraordinarily rapid rate at which news, even of a trifling 
kind, spreads amongst these people. And before long the new 
facts must have been fully amalgamated with the genuine 
Indian tradition. 

In connection with the circumstance just described, it 
must be remembered that a very large proportion of those 
Europeans who have been much in contact with the Indians 
and have recorded their folk-lore, have, whether nominally 
missionaries or Aot, been more or less inspired by the 
purposes of the Christian missionary ; and these have re- 
joiced to find the Christian traditions which their own 


forerunners had poured into the Indian mind. Every aUow- 
ance must therefore be made by the scientific student of 
folk-lore for the extreme probability that these missionaries 
have very often mistaken such mere reflections for realities. 
The amount of error thus introduced is largely increased by 
the fact that not only each missionary by himself is liable 
to err, but that the whole body of those who have spoken 
of Christianity to the Indians since these were first seen have 
been liable to the same error. It is too generally forgotten 
that, though the present missionary efibrts in Guiana are 
hardly more than a generation old, other efforts of the same 
kind, though not so fully organised and recorded, had been 
made before. Though, therefore, the present missionary may 
often meet with an Indian who has perhaps never seen a 
white man before, he must not assume that in the stories 
which this Indian tells there have not been incorporated, 
generations before, incidents gathered from the preachings of 
the earliest explorers, conquerors, and settlers of this part of 

It may perhaps be as well to give an illustration or two 
of the more subtle forms which this error takes. How a con- 
ception, similar to our own, of an omnipotent and creating 
God may have been erroneously read fix)m the simple Indian 
tradition of some great and powerful ancestor, has already 
been explained.^ A fact recognised even by missionaries is 
that Indians make no prayer to any being whatsoever. 
Mr. Brett again and again bears witness to this in his book 
of legends ; perhaps he most emphatically emphasises the 
statement where he italicises his words in saying that they 
* never caU upon ' their Great Spirit. Yet the same writer 
in another passage^ actually introduces a prayer for rain sup- 
posed to have been made by the earliest Warrau Indians. In 
this case the discrepancy is probably to be explained in one 
of the two following suggestive ways : either the missionary 
was so saturated with the idea, more orthodox than religious, 
of calling on God for rain that^forgetful of the fact that such 
' See p. 366 ante. < Brett's Legendt^ p. 62. 


crying is so unnatural as to be utterly alien to Indian habits 
of thought, he misread some part of the Indian story as a 
prayer ; or — as, remembering Mr. Brett's wonted accuracy, I 
am induced to prefer — there actually was a prayer in the 
story as he heard it, but this prayer was introduced into the 
traditions after, and under the influence of, European teach- 
ing. Other typical instances of error from a similar source 
are to be found in the stories of world-floods and world-fires. 
The calamity to which an Indian is perhaps most exposed is 
to be driven from his home by a sudden rise in the river and 
consequent flooding of the whole forest. His way to escape is 
to get into his canoe with his family and his live stock, and 
to seek temporarily some higher ground, or, as sometimes 
happens, if none such can be found, the whole party lives 
as best they may in the canoe until the waters disappear 
from the face of the earth. It is well known how in all 
countries the proverbial * oldest inhabitant ' remembers and 
tells of the highest flood that ever happened. When there- 
fore the Indian tells in his simple language the tradition of 
the highest flood which covered all the small world known 
to him, and tells how the Indians escaped it,^ it is not 
difficult to realise that the European hearer, theologically 
prejudiced in favour of Noah, his flood, and his ark, is apt 
to identify the two stories with each other, and with many 
similar stories from many parts of the world. In the same 
way the Arawaks, as Mr. Brett relates, have a tradition of a 
world-fire which swept over the land.' On the savannahs of 
Guiana, and even in the forest, when a long season of drought 
has dried up almost all vegetation, a fire sweeping over the 
land is not a very uncommon event. In such cases the 
Indian, if on the savannah, takes refuge on some patch of 
ground where grass is the only vegetation, and where that 
is too scanty to afford more than very momentary food and 
delay to the flames ; or, if he is in the forest, he hurries on 
to some one of the many utterly barren sand-banks near the 
rivers, and there waits until the fire has passed. "WTien, 

> Brett's Legendf, p. 13. * IHdt p. 10. 


therefore, the Arawak tells how a world-fire once devastated 
the land, the explanation is, mutcUia mutandie^ that which 
has been given of the world-flood. But as no world-fire has 
any place in Christian tradition, the missionaries disregarded 
the catastrophe as told by Arawaks, though they spent their 
whole energy on a supposititious world-flood told of by the 
same people. 

From the folk-lore now to be told an attempt will be made 
to exclude, as far as possible, all that is of doubtful Indian 
origin^ for the present object is solely to present some 
picture of Indian habits of thought as shown in these fire- 
side tales. 

It will be found that a very large proportion of the 
stories are attempts to account for the features of the world 
in which the Indian lives. Naturally these attempts are in 
no way founded on scientific grounds, but are just the simple 
thoughts such as would everywhere readily occur to man 
in a primitive state, and which would even now occur to 
any child of civilised parents who could be entirely guarded 
from all here^tary scientific knowledge. This being so, 
the fact of the recurrence of the same legend, in slightly 
varied forms, in difierent parts of the world, ought not to 
excite the slightest surprise. For example, to take the 
legend of a world-flood already explained, floods must have 
afflicted primitive man in most parts of the world ; and that 
the tradition of such an event, and of the escape in a boat, 
has originated independently, but from similar circumstances 
and by a similar process, in various parts of the world, is 
not only not surprising, but was to be certainly expected. 

The first group of stories is concerned with the origin 
of man, or at least with his appearance in Guiana. The 
Arawaks, according to Mr. Brett, say that, before men were, 
a being,' breaking off twigs and pieces of bark from a silk- 
cotton tree {Eriod€ndron\ threw them far and wide around 
him. Some as they fell became^ birds ; others fell into the 
water and became fish ; others fell on land and became 

1 Mr. Brett of course identifies him with God. 


beasts, reptiles, men, and women. The Warraus, on the 
other hand, without troubling their minds as to the firat 
manufacture of the bodily shapes which we see, begin their 
story firom a time when their ancestors lived in sky-land. 
Up there one of their number, named Okonorote, was a 
famous hunter. On one occasion he followed a bird for 
many days without finding opportunity to shoot it. At 
length he succeeded, his ^rrow piercing the bird. But the 
game fell down into a deep pit, and was apparently lost. 
But Okonorote, looking down into the pit, saw daylight 
below, and before long he was able to discern down below a 
land on which many kinds of four-footed animals were 
walking. With the help of his tribe he hung a long piece 
of bush-rope down toward the earth, and then climbed down 
this. After much successful hunting he climbed home again, 
taking with him some venison. The Warraus who had 
remained in sky-land, never having tasted such food before, 
appreciated it so highly that they determined to move to 
the land below. After many had descended, a woman — who ' 
according to some was with child, according to others was 
very fat — stuck in the hole in sky-land, and though the 
other members of the tribe pushed and pulled from above " 
and below, it was never possible to move her. So the 
Warraus who were already on earth had to remain there, 
and those who were still in sky-land remained there. The 
True Caribs have a story which differs from this of the 
Warraus only in that the former represent that their object 
in coming down from sky-land to earth was to clean the 
latter place, which was evidently very dirty. This diflference 
18 of some slight interest in that, as has before been said, 
the Warraus are of filthy habits, while the Caribs are 
much more zealous in cleanliness. 

The whole group of these stories, thus compared, have 
a considerable incidental significance. The Arawak story 
seems full of European ideas, and, as is natural in the case 
of this tribe, which was from the first, and has continued, in 
closer communion with white men than any other tribe, is 


no doubt much modified from its original Indian form. The 
story of the Warraus — ^and in a somewhat less degree this 
is also true of the Carib story — is not only much more in 
accordance with Indian habits of thought, but, owing to the 
fact that this tribe has till quite recently had hardly any 
communication with Europeans, is much more likely to be 
genuine and' original. For myself, I do not believe that 
any idea of a general manufacture of animal bodies, much 
less of spirits, ever originated in the brain of an Indian, or 
any other man, in a state of savagery. 

The next story is told by the Warraus of the origin of 
the first Carib, and fully accounts for the enmity between 
the Warrau and Carib tribes. It also incidentally illustrates 
the Indian way of thinking of inanimate objects, such as 
stumps of trees, as living beings hardly different from men. 

Once upon a time there was a pond in which, as is often 
the case, the Warraus feared to bathe. At last two Indian 
women ventured into the water. Presently one of the 
women, named Korobona, touched the stump of a tree which 
rose over the surface of the water, and immediately the 
stump seized her and made her his wife. Then Korobona 
returned home, where after some time a child was bom. 
The brothers, jealous of their sister's honour, wished to kill 
it, but eventually consented to spare it. The child, however, 
soon died. Then Korobona went back to the pond, and 
again saw the stump. Once more a child was bom, this 
time a boy. The mother, remembering her brothers' threats 
on the previous occasion, hid the child in the forest. But 
the brothers discovered their sister's secret, and, having shot 
their arrows into the boy, left him as dead. But the mother 
nursed her child, revived it, and succeeded in rearing it. It 
was not till the child was a big boy that the brothers dis- 
covered that he still lived. Then they attacked him, and 
ciit his body in small pieces. From the grave in which the 
mother buried the victim rose an Indian more powerful and 
more fierce than any Warrau had ever been. He was the 
first Carib, who, with his descendants, waged perpetual war 


on the Warraus and reduced them to their present miserable 

Stories of how savages first learned to use plants as food 
are common in many parts of the world; nor are they 
absent from Guiana. 

The Caribs say that when they first arrived on earth from 
sky-land, cassava, plantains, and all useful vegetables grew 
on one huge tree.' This tree was first discovered by a tapir, 
who grew fat on the .fruits which fell from its branches. The 
Caribs, who as yet had found the new land a poor place and 
without food, were eager to find where the tapir fed. So 
they set the woodpecker to watch him. But the woodpecker 
as he flew through the forest after the tapir could not resist 
the temptation to tap the trees for insects, and the tapir, 
hearing the noise, knew he was followed, and went another 
way. Then the Caribs sent a rat, who stealthily succeeded 
in tracing the tapir to his food-tree; but the rat, having 
agreed with the tapir quietly to share the food, persuaded the 
Caribs that he too had failed in the quest. But the Caribs, 
finding the rat asleep one day with com still in his mouth, 
woke him and compelled him to show the tree. Then the 
Caribs took their stone axes, and after many months' hard 
work, succeeded in felling it. Each man took pieces of the 
tree and planted them in a field of his own ; so from that 
day each Indian has had his own cassava-field. 

The Ackawoi, as might be expected from their near 
relationship to the True Caribs, tell a tale which, up to this 
point, diflfers from the above only in that they say that the 
acourie (Ddsyprocta aguti) was the original .discoverer of 
the food-tree, and that one single man, apparently their 
traditional ancestor, assisted by various animals, cut it down. 
The two tales then coincide in representing that from the 
stump of the felled tree — which, by the way, some say was of 
stone instead of wood — ^a flood began to flow out on to the 
land. But before much harm was done the flow of 
water was stopped, according to the True Caribs, by the aid 

' The story, as I heard it, slightly .varies from Mr. Brett's version. 


of certain mysterious beiDgs, neither men nor animals as 
we know them — according to the Ackawoi, by one man, who 
inverted an empty basket over the spring of water and so 
stopped its flow. From this point on we will follow the 
Ackawoi version of the legend, which is better known. 

For some time the water was confined under the basket. 
But at last the brown monkey, curious, and suspecting that 
something very good must be hidden under the carefully 
tended basket, cautiously raised it and peeped under* In 
an instant the flood rushed out, carrying away the monkey, 
and overflowing the whole land. Then the man, with all 
manner of animals, took refuge up in a tall kokerite palm. 
Most of the fugitives remained patiently during the flood, 
but the red howling-monkey, getting excited, began to roar, 
and roared so loudly that his throat swelled, and has 
remained extended ever since. That is the reason of the 
curious bony drum in the throat of this animal. Meanwhile 
the man at intervals let single palm-seeds fall into the 
water, to judge by the splash of its depth. At last the flood 
seemed to have subsided, and all prepared to descend. But 
the trumpet-bird {Paophia crepitans) flew down in such a 
hurry that he alighted in an ants' nest, and the hungry 
insects fastened on his legs, which had before been fairly 
thick, and gnawed them down to their present spindle-like 
size.* ^he others having descended more cautiously and safely, 
the man began to rub two pieces of wood to make fire. Now 
the first spark generated in this way is very small. The 
bush-turkey {Penelope 7narail\ at a moment when the man 
was looking away, swallowed this spark, mistaking it for a 
fire-fly, and then flew quickly away. The spark burned the 
bush-turkey's throat, and that is the reason why to this day 

> In farther illtiBtration of how such thoughts may arise in Indian 
minds from familiar incidents, I may refer to an accident which happened 
to myself and frequently happens to the Indians. Jumping suddenly ont 
of my hammock one morning, I alighted in the very middle of an enormous 
column of hunting ants {Eciton) which happened to be passing underneath 
at the moment. From my own sensations I can fully realise those of the 
trumpet-bird on the occasion recorded above. 


those birds have a red wattle on their throats. Meanwhile, 
the man missing his spark, saw the alligator, who was then 
a gentle brute, but ugly, standing near. Immediately the 
other animals, agreeing in their abhorrence of the ugliness 
of the alligator, raised a shout that it was he who had taken 
the spark. Whereupon the man, angry and impatient, tore 
out the tongue of the supposed culprit. And this is the 
reason why alligators have ever since had such very rudi- 
mentary tongues, and also why they wage perpetual war on 
other beasts. That is all that is known of the story. 

A large number of other stories, as in the last example, 
are evidently intended to account for certain peculiarities 
of certain animals. The following examples, told by 
Arawaks, have been collected by Mr. Brett. 

The first once more concerns the alligator. The Sun 
one day came down to fish. Like any other Indian, he 
built a dam across the mouth of a fish-haunted stream 
to retain the prey. But in his absence the otters broke his 
dam, and the fish escaped. Then the Sun rebuilt it and 
placed a woodpecker to watch it. One day, the woodpecker 
tapping very loudly, the sun came to see what was the 
matter. This time it was the alligator who was trying to do 
damage. So the Sun drove him away by striking him again 
and again with a huge club. Thus were made those marks 
which we think are scales, which are to be seen on the 
alligator to this day, 

A similar tale tells how a young Arawak chose as his 
wife a king-vulture {Sarcoramphus papa). Now an Indian 
man, when he marries, goes to live with his wife's father. 
So the Arawak went to sky-land and was well received by 
the vulture's people. But when after a time he announced 
his intention of paying a visit to his own people, the vultures 
were enraged, and set him on top of a tall awarra-palm 
(Aatrocaryum tucumoidea)^ the trunk of which, as is well 
known, is covered with terrible thorns. There he remained 
until some spiders, feeling pity, spun a cord by which he 
descended. Then for many years he tried to get back to his 


wife, but the vultures would have nothing more to say to 
him. But at last the other birds, taking compassion on him, 
carried him to sky-land and helped him to fight the vultures. 
The latter having been driven into their own houses, their 
whole settlement was burned over their heads. Then the 
other birds began to quarrel over the plunder. The trumpet- 
bird and the heron got so angry that they fought and rolled 
each other in the ashes, which is the reason why the former 
bird has ever since had a grey back, and why the latter has 
been grey all over. Taking advantage of the confusion, the 
owl, prowling about, found a package so carefully done up 
that he thought it must contain something very valuable. 
So he opened it, and out came the darkness in which he has 
ever since had to live. Meanwhile, a rather important 
incident had occurred. The Arawak on whose behalf this 
war was waged fought with, and was killed by, his own son 
by his vulture wife. It must be added that the hawks and 
other big birds found, when the war was over, that that 
generally bold little bird, the keskedie {Saurophagtcs svl- 
phuratua)^ disinclined to fight just then, had bandaged his 
head with white cotton and, pretending to be ill, had re- 
mained at home, for which act he was compelled by the big 
birds always to wear his bandage. And this little bird still 
has the white marks on his head, and still avenges the in- 
dignity by attacking big birds whenever opportunity oflfers. 

Yet another tale tells of war waged by the combined 
forces of men and birds. The enemy this time was a huge 
water-snake. An agreement was made that whoever began 
the attack should claim the skin as his spoil. For a long 
time no one would begin, but at last a duckler (Plotus 
anhinga) * darted under water and wounded the snake, who 
was then gradually drawn out and killed. Then the duckler 
claimed the skin. Calling his family, he made each take 
hold of the skin, and thus the whole party flew away with 
it. Then the birds agi*eed to divide the skin, which, except 

1 Mr. Brett makes the attacker the cormorant, which is not a Guianese 


at the head, was of very bright colours, each taking the part 
that was in its own beak. And when they had done this, 
each dressed himself in his own bit of skin. Most of them — 
all except the duckler who had actually began the attack on 
the snake, and to whose lot the head of the skin happened to 
fall — at once became various bright-coloured parrots and ma- 
caws. Only one, he who began the fight, remained dingy in 
colour and a duckler. 

Other kindred stories account for peculiarities of other 
natural objects familiar to the Indian. One is of the haiarri 
{Lonchocarpus) foot, which Indians throw into streams to 
narcotise the water and thus obtain the fish.^ Once upon a 
time an Indian took his young son to bathe. Wherever the 
lad swam the fish died ; and the father found by experiment 
that these fish were quite wholesome as food. So he made 
a practice of obtaining fish in this way. But after a time, 
the fish having taken council, chose a moment when the lad 
sat on a log just before plunging into the water, when, there- 
fore, the fish could approach him safely, and then, all spring- 
ing out of the water together, struck their spines into the 
lad. The wound made in this way by the sting-ray proved 
fatal. But as the father was carrying his dying son home, 
the blood dropped on to the ground, and wherever it fell 
there grew up a haiarri plant, which has ever since been 
used by Indians to poison the streams when they want to 
catch fish. 

The scene of a second story of this kind is the Kaieteur 
fall, which has been described in an earlier chapter. There, in 
mid-stream, a few hundred yards below the fall, is a long 
narrow island, in shape much like one of the * wood-skins,' 
or bark-boats, used by the Ackawoi of that river ; and at the 
side of the river, close to the foot of the column of water, is 
a curiously regular rectangular rock of the shape of the 
* pegall,' or basket, in which the Indian packs his properties. 
Once upon a time, say the Ackawoi, there was on the savan- 
nah above the fiaJl an Indian settlement in which lived an 

> See ante, p. 233. 


old man so worn out and useless from age that in his feet the 
jiggers buried themselves unmolested. In short, the old man 
was a scandal and a nuisance to his fellows. So the latter 
put the old man with his pegall into a woodskin, which they 
then launched on the river and allowed to drift over the fall. 
The old man was never seen again ; but his woodskin became 
the island in the river below the fall, and his pegall turned 
to stone, and remains to this day. 

Akin to these stories are the statements of the Macusis, 
that the dew that falls by night is the spittle of the stars ; and 
that the Southern Cross, which is of course a striking object 
on the bare and open savannah where those Indians live, is 
a being whose dwelling is the plain. 

Another large class of fireside tales are of the existence 
of various fictitious men and animals. When travelling 
round the Canakoo mountains, I was often told by the Indians 
of a certain tribe of Indians who lived up among the highest 
rocks and who never came down into the plain except by 
night. Indians who have ventured up into the mountains 
have often heard sounds from the settlements of these people ; 
and even from below one may often see their fires by night. 
It is a very curious thing that, as I have seen, there actually 
is an appearance as of fire to be seen sometimes up in these 
mountains ; nor was I ever able to form any theory as to its 
cause. Other people of the same kind are the Hooroids, a 
tribe of Indians living beyond the Pacaraimas, who are men 
by night but fish by day. Even by day, however, they do 
not live in the water, but lie about their houses as do the fish 
caught for food by ordinary Indians. But if by chance an 
Indian of another tribe finds his way into the house of a 
Hooroni, and, thinking it empty, helps himself, as by ordinary 
custom he is entitled to do, to any of the apparent fish lying 
about, and if he tries to put this fish over the fire to roast, 
then all the fish change back into men and slay the intruder. 
Another favourite statement of the Indians is that there is 
another tribe, whom they locate anywhere, who live like 
ordinary Indians by day, but retire into the water at night 


and sleep standing, with only their heads above water. If 
the Amazons are not, as has been asserted, a suggestion 
made by Europeans and only then caught up and adopted by 
Indians, they should probably be classed with these fictitious 
tribes of folk-lore. It may be added that Humboldt has very 
plausibly suggested that the rumour of Amazons, which he 
thought was of genuine Indian origin, arose from the fact 
that in some of the tribes the men wear their hair long, as 
in other tribes only the women do. 

Again, any extraordinary or inaccessible rock is always 
said to be inhabited by monstrous animals. For example, on 
Roraima the Indians say that there are huge white jaguars, 
huge white eagles, and other such beasts. To this class 
probably belongs the di-dis, beings in shape something be- 
tween men and monkeys, who live in the forests near the 
river banks. To English readers this last being has some 
literary interest as being probably that which suggested to 
the vivid and quaint imagination of Charles Waterton the 
idea of constructing his famous nondescript, the real nature 
of which for a time puzzled too confiding zoologists at home. 
To this class also belong the omars, beings with bodies 
variously described as like those of exaggerated crabs and 
fish, who live imder water in the rapids, and often drag down 
the boats of the Indians as they shoot the^e places. In con- 
nection with one of these last beings a story was told me at 
Ouropocari fall, on the Essequibo, which is worthy of record. 

This omar used to feed on rotten wood, and he dragged 
down many boats merely in mistake for floating logs, but all 
the same the Indians were drowned. So one day an Ackawoi 
peaiman carefully wrapped up two pieces of the wood with 
which fire is rubbed, so that no water could make them damp. 
Then he dived down into the middle of the falls and got into 
the belly of the omar. There he found whole stores of 
rotten wood. So he set fire to this. Then the omar, in 
great pain, rose to the surface, belched out the peaiman, and 

In the above story we once more find an instance of the 



occurrence among the Indians of an idea which has recurred 
again and again in almost all parts of the world. Jonah in 
the belly of the whale, Hiawatha in the belly of the sturgeon 
Nahma, Brer Rabbit and Mr. Fox in the belly of the Cow 
Bookay,* the seven kids of the well-known story in the belly 
of the wolf, and the peaiman in the belly of the omar, form 
a curious set of parallels. Whereon the notion of men 
entering the bellies of animals and then escaping in safety 
is founded is not clear ; but that these various instances have 
originated independently by a common process of reasoning 
from some similar and simple incidents of general occurrence 
is highly probable. 

The last group of folk-lore tales to which I shall now turn 
differs entirely from those already told, in that the subjects 
dealt with are not mythological but historical. They repre- 
sent all that the Indians themselves know of the unwritten 
history of their ancestors in comparatively recent years. 

The Arawaks say that their ancestors had first to fight a 
fierce tribe called Meyanow ; and after they had extermi- 
nated these they were harassed by the Caribs, who came 
first from the islands, but afterwards settled on the mainland 
and carried on an even more constant warfare. Every year 
the Caribs from all quarters gathered round the Arawaks on 
the Pomeroon and attacked them. One year, when the 
Caribs were expected, the Arawaks chose a chief to lead 
them against the enemy. This chief, having seen that large 
quantities of arrows had been provided, placed his men in 
ambush, some distance from the river, at each side of the 
].ath leading from the river to the settlement. When the 
Caribs came, they saw the canoes of the Arawaks tied up at 
the side of the river as usual ; and, suspecting nothing, they 
left their own canoes and hurried along the path. Then they 
fell into the ambush. When the Arawaks had exhausted 
their arrows, they fell upon the enemy with their war-clubs, 
till the few survivors of the latter fled back to the water-side, 
only to find their retreat cut off by other Arawaks who had 

* Uhele Hemus, by J. C. Harris. London and New York, 1881. 


crept round them through the forest. Not a Carib of that 
whole party escaped. 

The next year another party of Caribs came against the 
Arawaks of the Pomeroon. The chief of the latter made 
all his men hide their women and children in safety away in 
the forest. Then he placed the huge trunk of a tree across 
the mouth of a side stream, just under water. On the banks 
of the stream above this hidden trunk the Arawaks concealed 
themselves. When word was brought that the invading 
Caribs were near, two or three of the younger and most 
active of the Arawak men got into a small boat of very light 
draught, and, pushing this over the boom under water, 
paddled about in the mouth of the stream. Before long the 
Caribs saw them, and, enraged at finding the settlements 
which they had come to plunder deserted and bare, they 
gave chase to the Arawak boat. The latter was quickly 
paddled by its crew over the boom and up the stream. The 
Caribs following, their large and heavy canoes, urged in the 
course of the chase at their utmost speed, struck heavily 
against the unsuspected barrier and were split. At that 
moment the Arawaks rushed out upon the enemy from their 
hiding-places and slew almost all. A few only escaped, 
vowing vengeance. 

Yet a third time the Caribs came, and were again over- 
thrown. Their chief, having been struck in the face by a 
three-pronged fish arrow, was captured alive. Then the 
Arawaks consulted as to what they should do with the 
prisoner. At last they determined to let him go unharmed ; 
and this was the end of the feud between the tribes. 

, It must be added to the above story that the peace does 
not seem to have been very complete. The Caribs still con- 
tinued to oppress the Arawaks ; and, according to the general 
belief of the Indians, the former till quite recently were even 
in the habit of cutting off" the hand of any Arawak who was 
bold enough to settle near the banks of the river. It must 
also be added that the preceding story, so favourable to the 
Arawaks, is derived entirely from Arawak tellers; but, on 

c c 2 


the other hand, it is certain that the Arawaks to this day 
retain a timid dread of the Garibs, who repay the feeling 
with contempt. 

With regard to these semi-historical tales of war between 
the tribes it need only be added, as significant when the 
general condition of the various tribes is considered, that only 
the Warraus seem to have no tale to tell of bold deeds done 
against hostile tribes. 




The Various Antiquities — Bock-Pictures — Painted Bocks — Two kinds of 
£ngraved Bocks — Shallow Engravings — Deep Engravings— The most 
recent Bock-Engraving — Comparative Study of the Bock-Engravings 
of the World — Shell- Mounds or Kitchen-Middens — Probable History of 
the Shell- Mounds — Stone Implements — Manner of Occurrence in Guiana 
— Some Tjrpical Examples — Some Peculiar Examples — Standing Stones 
— Sites of Ancient Villages. 

In 1825 Charles Waterton, in his classic * Wanderings in 
South America,' wrote : * I could find no monuments or marks 
of antiquity amongst these Indians; so that, after penetrating 
to the Eio Branco from the shores of the Western Ocean^ 
had anybody questioned me on this subject, I should have 
answered, I have seen nothing amongst these Indians which 
tells me that, they have existed here for a century, though, 
for aught I know to the contrary, they may have been here 
before the Eedemption ; but their total want of civilisation 
has assimilated them to the forests in which they wander. 
Thus an aged tree falls and moulders into dust, and you 
cannot tell what was its appearance, its beauties, or its 
diseases amongst the neighbouring trees ; another has shot 
up in its place, and after nature has had her course, it will 
make way for a successor in its turn. So it is with the 
Indian of Guiana : he is now laid low in the dust ; he has 
left no record behind him, either on parchment or on stone 
or in earthenware, to say what he has done. . . . All that 
you can say is : The trees where I stand appear lower and 
smaller than the rest, and from this I conjecture that some 
Indians may have had a settlement here formerly. Were I 


by chance to meet the son of the father who moulders here, 
he could tell me that his father was famous for slaying 
tigers and serpents and caymans, and noted in the chase of 
the tapir and wild boar, but that he remembers little or 
nothing of his grandfather.' 

This statement is only true in so far as it describes the 
ignorance of the Indian as to his own forerunners and their 
real history. In the half century which has elapsed since 
he who wrote these words wandered through the interior 
of *Demerara,' many antiquities have been found in the 
country — enough, indeed, to make it highly probable that 
many more remain to be discovered. Unfortunately, those 
already known are not enough in number, and have not 
been sufficiently studied, to afford much information as to 
their history and as to the inter-relations of their makers ; 
and, perhaps yet more unfortunately, even the few facts 
known have been recorded so fleetingly, and chiefly in such 
scattered papers, that they are hardly generally available. 
An account of all known antiquities of British Guiana ought 
therefore to be useful, even if only to those who wish to 
look further into such matters. 

The objects to be discussed may, for the sake of con- 
venience, be classed under five heads: (1) Pictured rocks, 
(2) shell-mounds, (3) stone implements, (4) standing stones, 
(5) sites of ancient villages. Before dealing with each of these 
in turn, it may be as well to state that in no one case is it as 
yet possible to assign any one of these traces of past human 
life with any certainty to the tribe which produced them ; 
and only in one case is it possible to point to the producers 
with even some degree of probability. With regard to the 
pictured rocks and the shell-mounds, good reason will be 
shown fdr supposing that the former are the products of a 
forgotten art of some of the tribes now living in this part of 
the world ; and yet stronger reason for supposing that the 
latter are the work of the True Caribs. 



The pictured rocks, which are certainly the most striking 
and mysterious of the antiquities of Guiana, are — and this 
has apparently never yet been pointed out — ^not all of one 
kind. In all cases various figures are rudely depicted on 
larger or smaller surfaces of rocks. Sometimes these figures 
are painted, though such cases are few and, as will be shown, 
of little moment ; more generally they are graven on the 
rock, and these alone are of great importance. Eock sculp- 
tures may, again, be distinguished into two kinds, difi'ering 
in the depth of incision, the apparent mode of execution, 
and, most important of all, the character of the figures 

Painted rocks in British Guiana are mentioned by 
]Mr. C. Barrington Brown, well known as a traveller in the 
colony. He says, for instance, that in coming down past 
Amailah fall (in the same district and range as the Kaieteur), 
on the Cooriebrong river, he passed ^ a large white sandstone 
rock ornamented with figures in red paint.' When in the 
Pacaraima mountains, on the Brazilian frontier, I heard of 
the existence of similar paintings in that neighbourhood, 
but was unable to find them. JVlr. Wallace, in his account of 
his * Travels on the Amazons,' mentions the occurrence of 
similar drawings in more than one place near the Amazons ; 
and from these and other accounts it seems probable that 
they occur in various parts of South America. If, as seems 
likely, these figures are painted with either of the red pig- 
ments * which the Indians use so largely to paint their own 
bodies as well as their weapons and other implements, or, as 
is also possible, with some sort of red earth, they must be 
modem, the work of Indians of the present day ; for these 
red pigments would not long withstand the eflFects of the 
weather, especially where, as in the case quoted from 
Mr. Brown, the drawings are on such an unenduring 
substance as sandstone. Some further account of these 

> See anUf p. 316. 



paintings is, however, much to be desired ; for, though they 
are probably modem, it vould be vety iuteieeting to know 
whether the designs resemble those depicted on the engraved 
rocks, or are of the kind which the Indian at the present 
time omaments both his own skin and his household utensils 

and paddles. It may be mentioned that in the Christy 
collection there is a stone celt from British Guiana on which 
are painted lines very closely resembling in character those 
which the Indian commonly paints on his own body. 

The engraved rocks, on the contraiy, must be of some 
antiquity ; that is to aay, they must certainly date from a time 


before the infiuence of Europeans was much felt in Guiana. 
As has already been said, the engravings are of two kinds, and 

are probably the work of two different people ; nor is there 
even any reason to suppose that the two kinds were produced 
at one and the same time. 


These two kinds of engravings may, for the sake of con- 
venience, be distinguished as *deep' (Fig. 36, p. 393) and 
* shallow ' (Fig. 35, p. 392) respectively, according as the 
figures are deeply cut into the rock or are merely scratched 
on the surface. The former (Fig. 37) vary from one-eighth 
to one-half of an inch, or even more, in depth ; the latter 
are of quite inconsiderable depth. This difference probably 
corresponds with a difierence in the means by which they 
were produced. The deep engravings seem cut into the 
rock with an edged tool, probably of stone ; the shallow 
figures were apparently formed by long continued friction 
with stones and moist sand. The two kinds seem never 
to occur in the same place, or even near to each other; 
in fact, a distinct line may almost be drawn between the 
districts in which the deep and the shallow kinds occur 
respectively. The deep form (Plate 9) occurs at several 
sjKJts on the Mazeruni, Essequibo, Ireng, Cotinga, Potaro 
and Berbice rivers. The shallow form has as yet only been 
reported from the Corentyn river and its tributaries, where, 
however, examples occur in considerable abundance. But 
the two kinds difier not only in the depth of incision, in the 
apparent mode of their production, and in the place of their 
occurrence, but also — and this is the chief difierence between 
the two — in the figures represented. This will best be ex- 
plained by describing examples of each kind. 

On Temehri rock, which lies in mid-stream some little 
distance below the Wanitoba cataracts on the Corentyn river, 
there is a very fine example of shallow engraving. (Fig. 37.) 
The Carib word temehri means * painted,' or perhaps rather 
' marked ' ; thus the figure now imder notice has given name 
to the rock.* The engraving represents the single figure, the 

> In connection with this word a curious fact is pointed out by Schom- 
burgk. There is a tree in Guiana called • letter-wood * or * speckle-wood/ 
because of the curious marking of its heart-wood. Harcourt, in his JRela- 
tion of a Voyage to Guiana, published in 1626, says of it, * There is a hard, 
heavy, red-speckled wood in that country, called Paira timinere * (p. 48). 
Aublet*8 scientific name for letter- wood-tree is Pirateneragmanentit. Schom- 
burgk remarks, truly enough, that * it is called by the Caribs and Macusifl 


outline of which is, with one exception, always represented 
in these shallow engravings. It may be described as a 
rectangular figure, of greater height than width, crowned by 
a semicircle marked with distinct radii. This outline is 
filled in by a pattern of straight lines ; which, unlike the 
outline, is not always the same as at Temehri, and is indeed 
often considerably varied. The whole height of the figure 

on Temehri rock is thirteen feet, its greatest width five feet 
seven inches ; but figures of this sort vary very considerably in 
dimensions, though they are always much larger than are 
the figures of the deep sculptures. It is, as is indeed usual, 
very indistinct, and, except in certain lights, it is almost 

Paira ; &nd tiainere (or timeRri) eigvifiea painted ; ' and this writer adds, 
by making a slight error, that this term of 'painted' is given to it 'to dis- 
tingnish it from a species which is not speokled.* As a matter ot fact, the 
name of the letter-wood-tree is siinplj I'nira ; and Paira temehri is used 
to diBtinguish the marked or ' painted ' heart-wood from the unmarked sap- 
wood. Bat the important point is, that Aablet mode bis scientifie generic 
name for the tree by oorrapting the Indian term Pttira timinere into the 
pMudo- Latin word PiraUn^ra, and thus ran the risk of offering a most bard 
□nt to fatore etymolc^ti to crack. 


invisible until water has been poured over the surface of the 
rock. To obtain a photograph, it was necessary carefully to 
mark the lines of the figure with white chalk, and one or 
two of the lines being accidentally left unmarked, these are 
not shown in the photograph. 

In Downer's map of Berbice, published in 1844, are 
shown two rock-drawings supposed to occur on Temehri 
island, which is also in the Corentyn river, some little dis- 
tance below Temehri rock. Both of these, as represented 
on the map, are very peculiar. In one, an upright line has 
several volutes starting from each side of it. Nothing of 
this sort occurs elsewhere, either in the shallow or the deep 
drawings. The other is an extraordinary combination — ^also 
such as has been seen nowhere else — apparently of straight- 
handled tridents. In the map it has a most suspiciously 
modem look, but as after careful search I failed to find any 
such figure on the island — which is very small — I need say 
no more about it. The original of the figure of six volutes 
I found. At first sight it does look as in the map ; but if 
carefully traced — for it is very indistinct — it becomes evident 
that it is of quite difiFerent nature. Curiously enough, how- 
ever, though, according to depth of gravure, it certainly 
belongs to the shallow class of engravings, yet the figure 
represented bears little resemblance to the figures otherwise 
universal in this class ; it must, however, be added that it is 
still more unlike the character of the figures represented in 
the deep engravings. 

Several other shallow drawings, apparently hitherto un- 
recorded, occur on this island. Some are so indistinct that 
I was unable to decipher and draw them. Another, which 
was almost entirely hidden by a tree which had grown over 
it, and which had to be cut down before the figure became 
visible to any but the sharp eye of the Indians, is a fine 
example of the common figure of the shallow class. 

Another very good example of a rock-drawing of the 
shallow class exists at the side of the first fall on the Cabalebo, 
a large tributary running into the Corentyn on the eastern 


side. At first sight I saw that this engraving, though evi- 
dently of the shallow class, did not represent the normal 
figure. It is distinctly visible from a distance, but hardly 
perceptible from any point, but one, near the rock. It is on the 
eastern face of a gneiss boulder — five feet high at its highest 
point and seven and a half feet wide — which stands at the edge 
of the fall, and is partly surrounded by shallow water. When 
the river is full, the rock and the figure must be partly sub- 
merged. The incision is very slight indeed and much worn, 
indeed some parts of the figure have evidently been worn away. 
After carefully examining the rock from all points of view 
and from all distances, I could trace, partly by sight and 
partly by touch, some additional strokes, and these additional 
strokes, now almost obliterated, bring the figure very near to 
that represented on Temehri rock. 

Scattered along the Corentyn and also on the Berbice 
rivers — in which latter place, however, there are also ap- 
parently examples of deep engravings — are other shallow 
examples, more or less resembling those which I have de- 
scribed. They may, therefore, be said to be confined, as 
regards Guiana, to the eastern district. 

They seem always to occur on comparatively large and 
more or less smooth smfaces of rock, and rarely, if ever, as the 
deep figures, on detached blocks of rock, piled one on the 
other. The shallow figures, too, are generally much larger, 
always combinations of straight or curved lines in figures much 
more elaborate than those which occur in the deep engravings; 
and these shallow pictures always represent not animals, but 
greater or less variations of the figure which has been de- 
scribed. Lastly, though I am not certain that much signifi- 
cance can be attributed to this, all the examples that I have 
seen face more or less accurately eastward. 

The deep engravings, on the other hand, consist not of a 
single figure, but of a greater or less number of rude drawings 
(Fig. 36, p. 393). These depict the human form, monkeys, 
snakes, and other animals, and also very simple combinations of 
two or three straight or curved lines in a pattern, and occasion- 


ally more elaborate combinations. The individual figures are 
small, averaging firom twelve to eighteen inches in height, but 
a considerable number are generally represented in a group. 

Some of the best examples of this latter kind are at War- 
rapoota cataracts, about six days' journey up the Essequibo. 
At that place a large number of figures occur scattered over 
the surfaces of a group of granite boulders in the very midst 
of the cataracts. These rocks when the river is high are 
covered by water ; but the drawings are exposed during the 
dry season. The engravings often occur on several sides of 
the same block, but never on the side or sides which show 
signs of most recent fracture. From the feet that they are 
on two or even three sides of the blocks, it is evident that 
the drawings were not, as might have been supposed, executed 
on the face of a clifi*, or on one large rock surface which has 
since broken up into these boulders. Often they are on that 
surface which now rests on other rocks of the pile; thus 
showing that the blocks are no longer in the position in 
which they were when the drawings were made. Again the 
fact that the blocks, all of which are under water in times of 
high rains, are many of them always below water-mark ex- 
cept in the very driest seasons, aflFords further strong ground 
for presuming that the rocks have been displaced since the 
engravings were executed. 

The commonest figures at Warrapoota are figures of men, 
or perhaps sometimes monkeys. These are very simple, and 
generally consist of one straight line, representing the trunk, 
crossed by two straight lines at right angles to the body 
line : one, at about a third of the distance from the top, re- 
presents the two arms as far as the elbows, where upward 
lines represent the lower part of the arms ; the other, which 
is at the lower end, represents the two legs as far as the 
knees, from which point downward lines represent the lower 
part of the legs. A round dot, or a small circle, at the 
top of the trunk-line forms the head ; and there are a few 
radiating lines where the fingers, a few more where the toes, 
should be. Occasionally the trunk-line is produced down- 


wards as if to represent a long tail. Perhaps the tail-less 
figures represent men, the tailed monkeys. In a few cases 
the trunk, instead of being indicated by one straight line, is 
formed by two curved lines, representing the rounded out- 
lines of the body ; and the body, thus formed, is bisected by 
a row of dots, almost invariably nine in number, which seem 
to represent vertebrae. 

Most of the other figures at Warrapoota are very simple 
combinations of two, three, or four straight lines, similar to 
the so-called ^ Greek meander pattern,' which is of such wide- 
spread occurrence. Combinations of curved lines and simple 
spiral lines also frequently occur. Many of these combina- 
tions closely resemble the figures which the Indians of the 
present day paint on their faces and naked bodies. The re- 
semblance is, however, not so great but that it may be 
merely due to the fact that the figures are just such simple 
combinations of lines which would occur independently to the 
rock-engravers and to the body-painters, as to all other un- 
taught designers. 

At Warrapoota there are only two instances of figures 
occurring in only a single representation : one of these is a 
rayed sun, the other is the top of a rounded arch. The 
former, at least, of these figures occurs firequently in other 
places. Not at Warrapoota, but in many places on the rivers 
of the Essequibo system, and also probably on the Berbice, 
in addition to the drawings mentioned above, figures of 
lizards, alligators, birds, or other animals occur. 

Two rock-engravings, mentioned and figured by Sir 
Eobert Schomburgk in his ^ Views in the Interior of British 
Guiana,' are peculiar, in that, as far as can be judged from 
Schomburgk's figures, they can hardly be classed as ordinary 
deep engravings, still less as shallow. One, which is said to 
occur near the Camoodi rock on the Essequibo, is a most ela- 
borately intricate combination of lines (Fig. 38, p. 400). It 
seems that the figure as given by Schomburgk, which is here 
, copied, represents only part of the engraving as it really 
appears. The second occurs at the Ilha de Pedra on the 


Rio Negro ; and, therefore, not in British Cruiana. But as 
it throws BOme light on the subject of rock-engravings, some 


mention must here be made of it. It represents a lai^ and 
a small ship, one above the other, and evidently of Eiiropean 
build (Fig. 39). The upper figure is small and comparatively 


unimportant. The other figure, on the other hand, ia very 
elaborate and curious. Comparing it with the figure of any 
S^janish galley of about the date of the early explorers of 
America, it is, I think, evident that the Rio Negro rock- 
drawing represents, roughly enough, such a galley (Fig. 40). 
It is a well-known fact that Francisco Orellana, who was 
the first white man who penetrated beyond the mouth of the 
Amazons, in his journey from the Napo, past the Rio Negro 
to the Amazon, and so to the Atlantic, once found himself in 
difficulties and, with suiprising energy, set to work, in the 
heart of unknown South America, to build himself a ship. 

M TOUB at CuLOIBL'^). 

The building of this vessel, a.d. 1540, must most strongly 
have impressed the minds of the Indian companions of 
Orellana. It is by no means impossible, therefore, that these 
Indians, on their return home, may have recorded the ap- 
pearance of this most strange canoe on the rock in the Rio 
Xegro. However this may be, it is at least certain that this 
particular rock-engraving must date from about that time. 

One characteristic which these shallow and deep engrav- 
ings seem to have in common is that they always — or nearly 
always, for there is said to be an esception in the Facaraima 
mountains — occur near water, and, as I believe, near a 
waterfall or cataract. There is indeed another possible 
exception, mentioned by Mr. Brown, in the district of the 


Cotinga, where he observed figures of suns, curved snakes^ 
spirals, and circles on a jasperous rock exposed on a savannah ; 
but even this was not very far from the river. By far the 
larger part in Cruiana are situated not many feet above the 
surface of the water, or even, in times of flood, below th& 
surface. There are, however, examples, as, for instance, on 
the upper part of the Corentyn, which are high up on the 
face of some cliff, and are not to be reached unless by 
difficult climbing. On the Orinoco Humboldt saw such 
engravings high up on apparently inaccessible cliffs ; and 
similar cases have been reported from almost all parts of the 

The many differences seem sufficient to show that the 
two kinds are the work of different people, and have different 

No satisfactory theory as to the origin of these rock- 
pictures has ever been formed. The Indians of the present 
day know nothing about them; and if they ever speak 
of them, tell some such story as that ^ women made 
them,' or that they are the work of MaJceruiiTna Moo- 
Tooo (God's Son), who when he wandered about on earthy 
drew them with the point of his finger on the rock. It 
is hardly necessary to point out that the latter quasi- 
tradition has not even the merit of antiquity ; for it must 
have originated after white missionaries came into South 
America and there first told the story of Christ. On the 
Orinoco Humboldt was told by the Indians that their fathers 
made them long ago, when the water was higher and they 
could reach these now inaccessible places in canoes. These 
and similar explanations have been given in other parts of 
South America and elsewhere. Every one of such state- 
ments may, however, be disregarded as merely due to the 
inveterate Indian habit of having an answer, indifferently 
true or invented, for every question. 

The chances of finding an answer to the question, with 
which we now have to deal, as to the intention of these 
rock-pictures, would obviously be increased by bringing to- 


gether for comparison a large number of examples, not onl^ 
from Guiana, but from wherever they occur. An elaborate 
attempt to do this has been made by Bichard Andr^e,* who 
has described and figured a very large number of examples 
of ' petroglyphs,' as he calls rock-drawings, apparently 
identical in many points, from America, Europe, Africa, 
Asia, and Australia. And having, with some show of reason, 
indicated something in common in all these, he then pro- 
ceeds to identify them with all the figures which, under 
conditions of civilisation such as those under which we live, 
boys cut with their pocket-knives on the desks and walls- 
of their schoolrooms, and also with those which adults of 
brutal mind scrawl on the walls of lanes and retired places 
Thus he thinks that one and the same^ purpose is to be 
attributed to the rock-drawings of uncivilised folk, to the 
names and figures which Eton boys write, or cause to be 
written, on the walls of their sixth-form room, to the draw- 
ings with which roughs deface the walls of public places, and 
even to the nam^s, verses, or designs which the witless- 
tourist puts in visitors' books or scratches in places the 
beauty or interest of which attracts such folk. All these 
are said to be but the work of idle hands, and are due to the 
insignificant instinct which impels the human animal to make 
his mark. 

While accepting with gratitude this author's collection 
of facts and, above all, of figures, we may I think unhesi- 
tatingly reject his final conclusion. It is suflScient to 
remember the enormous amount of time and labour which 
these rock-engravings must have cost, necessarily executed 
as they were, in Guiana at least, without the aid of any but 
stone implements, or by friction. Making all allowance for 
the patience with which an Indian works for any object that 
pleases him, even if the practical result appears but little — as 
when he spends weeks in ornamenting a war-club which, as 
soon as it is finished, he exchanges, perhaps, for some arrow or 

' JEthnoffraphUche ParaUelen untl VergleicJie, hj Richard Andr^e (Stutt- 
gart, 1878), pp. 258-299. 

D D 2 


ornament representing hardly an hour's work — it is yet 
impossible to suppose that Indians ever undertook the 
enormous labour involved in producing an extensive series 
of rock-engravings for actually no purpose except to occupy 
his idle time. Indeed, though, as in the instance above 
cited of the club and arrow, tha^ Indian will labour for 
apparently small results, yet a still more surprising feature 
in his character is the contrast with which, when he sees 
nothing to be done, he spends day after day, for weeks, doing 
literally nothing, without ennuL It would, therefore, be 
absolutely contrary to Indian habit to make rock-engravings 
from mere idleness. But there is other eyidence to show 
that these engravings had some meaning no longer apparent. 
The similarity of some of the figures, such as those of men and 
other animals, of circles and waving lines, is evident through- 
out the rock-drawings of the worlds these things are either 
more or less rude representations of such animal forms as are 
indigenous to the country in which the representations are, or 
are very simple combinations of lines ; in either case these 
figures are such as would most naturally occur to the untaught 
artist. It by no means follows from this that these figures 
mean nothing more than they express to an eye ignorant of 
their intention. This is well shown by such instances as 
that given by Schoolcraft, of some picture-writing from a 
rock near Lake Superior, in which are rudely represented 
five canoes, containing in all fifty-one men, a kingfisher, a 
man on horseback, a land-tortoise, and a figure made up of 
three concentric semicircles arched over three small circles* 
This drawing appears rude enough, but it has a meaning. 
It records an expedition consisting of fifty-one men in five 
' canoes, which was led by a chief on horseback, who had an 
ally of the name of Kingfisher, which expedition before it 
reached land — signified by the land-tortoise — ^was three days, 
signified by the accepted sign of the heavens arched over 
three suns. i 

But if these fc^imple figures have an intention, much 
more must this be the case with the more intricate ex- 


amples. For instance, in the rock-engravings of Norths- 
nmberland, a peculiar, much coiled line occurs in great 
abundance and almost exclusively. This cannot have been 
the mere representation of anything visible to the maker j 
and the abundance of its occurrence necessarily suggests that 
it must have had a use or intention. Andr^e himself admits 
this : " Jedenfalls ist aber sicher, dass gegeniiber dem stil- 
losen Gharakter der meisten iibrigen FelsritzungeiJ, diese von 
Northimiberland, etc., die nach einem ganz bestimmten 
System ausgefiihrt sind und durch die regelmassig^ 
Wiederholung einer und derselben Form . ; . . sich 
auszeichnen und daher wohl eine Bedeutung haben miisr 
sen.' * And not only in this case, but wherever a peculiar, 
complex, and not very obvious figure occurs in many 
examples, it is legitimate to assume that this had some 
ulterior object and meaning. Now the figure which I have 
described as occurring in the shallow engravings of Cruiana 
is of such kind. It is not a figure which an Indian would 
be likely to invent in an idle moment even once ; for such 
a man very seldom, probably never, except in these parti- 
cular figures, has been known to draw straight lines. More- 
over, even if it were a figure that one Indian might idly 
invent, it is certainly highly improbable that this would be 
copied by many other Indians in various places. And lastly,. 
a figure strikingly like the one in question, if indeed it i& 
not identical, occurs in certain Mexican picture-writings.. 
For example, in the Bodleian library is a Mexican MS. in 
which occur several figures so like that of the shallow en- 
gravings of Guiana that there can be but little doubt of 
their connection (Fig. 41, p. 406).* The recurrence of this 
peculiar figure in these writings is surely sufiicient evidence 
6{ the fact that they are not without intention. If it were 
possible to obtain a clue to the meaning of the Mexican 

* Andrfee, p. 267. 

' These Mexican figures are reproduced in Lord Kingsborougb's Anti- 
guitiet of Mexico, vol. i. ; from Sir Thomas Bodley*8 MSS., pp. 22, 23^ 
and from the Selden MSS., also in the Bodleian, p. 3. 



figures, it might serve as a key to decipher the hieroglyphic 
writings of Guiana. 

But rejecting, for these reasons, Andrte's conclusion as to 
the identity in intention, or no intention, of rock-engravings 
and schoolboy scribblings, we may yet get much good from 
his book. He well shows that, beside the similarity, to 
which we have already alluded, of some of the figures, there 
are several other striking features common to the rock- 
engravings of Guiana and those of the rest of the world. 
These are worth examination. 

First, two facts are noticeable as to the position of these 
engravings : that they occur generally, especially in Guiana, 

Fig. 41. 

Mbxicak Picturb-wbiteho. 

in places the natural features of which have some striking 
peculiarity, as, for instance, at the side of a cataract ; and 
that in many cases and in various regions, for instance in 
Guiana as in Siberia,' they occur far up on apparently 
inaccessible faces of rock. For the first of these facts 
Andrde accounts in this way : Assuming the truth of his 
theory, that rock-engraving was a mere idle diversion, he 
truly enough says that such drawings were naturally made 

> Andr^, loe. eit^ p. 297. 


in places where the imagination of the artist was roused by 
the beauty or interest of the scene, just as the modem 
tourist de&ces with his name the most beautiful rock, or the 
building with the noblest traditions. But those who reject 
his fundamental theory are bound to find some different 
'explanation. This is readily found. Man in a primitive 
condition would naturally draw his figures, whether these 
had religious significance, or whether, as is more probable, 
they were commemorative, in places where the most striking 
events of his life occurred. For example, there is hardly a 
fall or rapid in Guiana which is not associated in the mind 
of the Indian with some canoe accident, in which men of his 
race have been drowned ; and it is therefore not surprising 
that it is generally on the rocks over or through which the 
water falls that these engravings generally appear. More- 
over, there is yet another fact connected with the same 
circumstance which is worthy of notice. In an earlier 
chapter it has been told, that at certain seasons of the year 
large parties of Indians gather at the falls to procure certain 
fish which then frequent such places. These expeditions 
into dangerous places, and possibly into an enemy's country, 
must often have been occasions of stirring events ; so that 
this fact also may afford some explanation of the frequent 
occurrence of rock-engravings near waterfalls. On the 
second of the two facts which we are now considering — ^the 
occurrence of rock-engravings on apparently inaccessible 
rocks — ^Andrde possibly throws some light in this way : He 
points out that Strahlenberg ^ suggested that these elevated 
drawings were made by means of stone wedges, driven 
into the rock, and used as steps; and that the same 
traveller actually saw such stone wedges in position (solche 
eingetriebene Steinkeile) on the Yenissei. 

Another set of facts reported by Andr^e of rock-engra- 
vings in general — especial mention being made in this respect 
-of the Guiana examples — is that the art of making them has 

' Strahlenbeig's Der Nordr und Oettliche TJieil von EM/topa und Atien, 
&c. (Stockholm, 1730), p. 337. Quoted by Andr^e, p. 297. 


been lost ; tl^t their origin has been quite forgotten ; and that 
they are rarely, if ever, regarded with superstition. Where 
they occur in countries long civilised, as in England, this {atct 
is only part of the wider fact that the habits of the primitive in- 
habitants of that country have been forgotten. That the art has 
been lost and the origin forgotten in countries first visited 
by civilised men in recent times, and then found to be still 
in the stone age, is easily explained. They can, wherever 
they occur, only have been made while the savage art of 
working stone, which is not lineally connected with the 
stone-cutting of civilised communities, was practised. This 
art would naturally be used principally for the production of 
necessary stone implements, and only secondarily for the 
production of rock-engravings, which cannot have been ab- 
solutely necessary to life. On the arrival of civilised men 
in any savage commimity, implements of metal rapidly spread 
in the latter, and the necessity, and consequently the art, of 
making stone implements dies out; and this same art, being 
no longer used for the production of necessaries, is naturally 
not retained for the mere purpose of producing rock-engra- 
vings, since the savage soon finds that he can live without 
these. Again, this art is thus destroyed by the indirect in- 
fluence of the civilised new-comers long before these new- 
comers 80 blend with the natives that the latter acquire from 
the former the habit of history ; so that by the time the 
natives, if they survive, are able to communicate intelligibly 
with the strangers, they have naturally entirely forgotten the 
very existence and reason of any art, whether of rock-en- 
graving or of anything else, which their ancestors, though 
perhaps not many generations back, relinquished. Stone 
implements are still made in some countries, and it is pos- 
sible that in these the art of rock-engraving, and the know- 
ledge of its purpose, may survive. The feet that rock- 
engravings are found in many scattered parts of the world 
by no means proves that such must occur in all ; so that if 
in countries in which the stone age still prevails the prac- 
tice of rock-engraving has not been observed, this fact in no 


way disproves the above, theory as to the interdependence of 
the arts of rock-engraving and stone-implement making. And^ 
moreover, it is impossible for civilised men so thoroughly to 
know any country in which the stone age still prevails as^to 
be able to say with certainty that rock-engravingisnot practised 
in that country ; for long before such men have penetrated 
every nook and comer, the stone age must necessarily die 
out. The statement that rock-engravings are not regarded (as 
might be expected if they had any intention and were not 
mere idle diversions) with superstition, even in countries 
where, if they were made up to the time at which the stone- 
age there ceased, they must still have been comparatively 
recently made, is to be met in two ways. In the first place 
the statement is not true of Cruiana, for almost the only 
superstitious rite practised by the Indians — the rubbing of 
red-pepper juice into the eyes' — is practised especially in the 
presence of ^engraved rocks. And secondly, even if these 
rocks are not regarded with superstition, as may be the case 
in places, this is no proof that the drawings had no com- 
memorative significance, for in that case no superstition 
would necessarily be connected with them, nor even that 
they had no religious significance, but is only evidence 
that the cause of their making has been entirely for- 

Last of all, the facts that we may here gather firom 
Andr^e's x)ages and notice is that, as in Guiana, so in 
various other parts of the world — for example in Siberia, 
instances are found in which figures of the character of 
those engraved are painted on rocks ; generally, it may be 
observed, with red pigment. Of any possible significance of 
this special colour nothing need be said. The occurrence of 
these painted rocks at all — since, in that the duration of the 
figures must be much less than when engraved, they are 
probably of more recent, certainly of recent, origin — may be 
due to the fact that after the art of rock-engraving had been 
lost, a habit was substituted, and retained for a short time, of 

' See ante, p. 368. 


painting, since it was no longer possible to engrave, the cus- 
tomary figures. 

It may be as well briefly to sum up the few facts that 
can be said, with any probability, of these rock-pictures in 
Guiana. The engravings are of two kinds, which may or 
may not have had different authors and different intention. 
They were still produced after the first arrival of Europeans, 
as is shown by the sculptured ship. They were, therefore, 
probably made by the ancestors of the Indians now in the 
country ; for, from the writings of Raleigh and other early 
explorers, as well as firom the statements of early colonists, 
it is to be gathered that the present tribes were already in 
ixuiana at the time of the first arrival of Europeans, though 
not perhaps in the same relative positions as at present. 
The art of stone working being destroyed by the arrival of 
Europeans, the practice of rock-engraving ceased. Possibly 
the customary figures were for a time painted instead of 
engraved; but this degenerated habit was also soon re- 
linquished. As to the intention of the figures, that they had 
some seems certain, but of what kind this was is not clear. 
Finally, these figures really seem to indicate some very 
slight connection with Mexican civilisation. 


After the rock-drawings the shell-mounds claim attention. 
These are very similar in structure and contents to the well- 
known kitchen-middens of Europe ; but those of Guiana 
were made at a much later time than were those in Europe. 
The earlier stages of civilisation through which a people 
passes are much the same in all parts of the world and at all 
periods of the world's history ; and so, just as the primitive 
European made kitchen-middens in the far-off so-called 
* prehistoric ages,' certain Indians made them a very few 
centuries ago in South America, and possibly-^in very 
remote parts of the continent — still make them even now. 

A kitchen-midden — for it is convenient to use this 


generally accepted semi-Scandinavian word — is simply the 
heap made by people who throw the refuse of that which 
they eat — shells of * shell-fish,' on which people in the stage 
in which were those who made the best-known middens 
•chiefly live, bones of animals, and other such matter. Often 
the fragments of the rude implements or weapons of. the 
midden-makers, when any of these are broken, are thrown or 
fall neglected on to this general refuse heap : sometimes 
even whole tools fall on to the heap by accident, and are 
soon covered and lost. The deserted middens remain, and 
by searching into these it is possible to discover something of 
/the food of those who made them, how they ate it, often what 
tools they used, and, generally, not a little of their way of life. 
The Indians of Guiana still throw fish-bones and all 
>other such sharp-edged or pointed figments as might wound 
their uncovered feet into some definite place ; but, except 
among the Warraus, no special place is long used for the 
refuse of a whole settlement, and so no large collections of 
refuse, such as might in after times be recognised as kitchen- 
middens, are formed. That their ancestors, or predecessors 
in the same country, were not in the habit, at least in the 
ordinary course of their lives, of accumulating large kitchen- 
middens is evident from the feet that all such heaps found 
.in Gruiana occur within a certain small and comparatively 
little-known district, north of the Pomeroon, while through- 
out the rest of the country, even in the thoroughly explored 
-coast-region, no traces of such heaps have been found. It 
is true that it was reported, some years ago, that a shell- 
mound had been found at Skeldon, at the other extremity 
of the colony, on the borders of Dutch Guiana. Having 
.after some difficulty traced the history of this report, I 
found that the so-called shell-mound was in reality only 
-a natural sand-reef, on which, as is remembered by people 
still aUve, the Indians who came annually from the interior 
to town, to receive the presents then allowed them by the 
government, used to encamp on the journey. The state- 
ment that all the known kitchen-middens are in the district 


between the Pomeroon and the Orinoco is therefore abso- 
lutely true. The fact that the Indians, though there is no 
reason to suppose that their habits have changed, do not, a» 
a rule, accumulate these heaps, and that those which occur 
are all within a special district, seems to indicate that some 
special circumstance at one time induced a group of the 
Indians to make these large heaps. What this special 
circumstance was, I think, we shall be able to read by 
careful observation of the known facts. 

First, as to the number of these mounds. At least eight 
are at present known * — five in the neighbourhood of the 
Pomeroon ; two on the Waini ; and one on the Moraybo, a 
river north of the Pomeroon, between the Waini and the 
Barima. In the latter district the Indians say that there 
are many more, and as that country is almost unknown, 
it may be so. Nearest to the coast is the mound at Warra- 
moori on the Morooca, a river which runs into the sea side 
by side with the Pomeroon. Further from the sea, and some 
distance up the Pomeroon, two mounds lie close together 
at Sireeki and Warrapana; the fourth is at the mission 
house at Cabacaboori ; and the fifth, first discovered during 
a visit which I paid to the Pomeroon in December 1878, 
is a mile or two further up, on a small side-stream called 
Piracca. Two of these, those at Warramoori and Cabacaboori, 
are placed on high hills close to and overlooking the river. 
The others are in secluded places, on islands of firm ground in 
the midst of swamps overgrown by troolie palms {Manicarut 
aacdfera). All, therefore, are in strong defensive positions,, 
and near running water. Of the two mounds on the Waini, 
for knowledge of which I am indebted to my friend the 
Eev. Walter Heard, one is near a small side-stream called 
Pawaieykemoo, on the right bank of the main river; the 
second is on another side-stream, called Quiaro, nearer the 
mouth of the main river. 

The mound at Warramoori was first opened in 1865, under 
the direction of the Eev. W. H. Brett, and was again opened , 

' Since the above was written several more have been discovered. 


in February 1866, in the presence of the governor of the 
•colony. Samples of the material of this mound, and a large 
number of stone implements, procured on this occasion, were 
forwarded to Sir Joseph Hooker, by whom they were given 
to Sir John Lubbock, who deposited some of the implements 
in the Christy collection. 

Early in the following year the mound at Sireeki was 
measured and opened, though, I believe, not under the per- 
^sonal superintendence of an educated man. The mound at 
<I!abacaboori was searched at various times by Jlr. Brett; and 
in the autumn of 1877 1 devoted two days to excavating this 
mound in a new place. About the same time I was present 
at the opening of the newly discovered mound up the Piracca 
-creek. In 1877 Mr. Heard roughly examined and measured 
the mound on the Pawaieykemoo. This is, I believe, a full 
list of all attempts that have yet been made to search these 
uhell-mounds of Guiana. 

The mounds vary considerably in size. That at Warra- 
moori is about 20 to 25 feet in height with a diameter of 
about 130 feet. 

The mound at Sireeki, which must be far the largest 
known, is said to be oblong, 250 feet long by 90 feet wide, 
and between 20 and 25 feet high ; and that at Piracca, 
which I measured myself, and which is almost completely 
•circular, has a diameter of 38 feet, and a height, in the 
centre, of only 4 feet. As, however, it stands on an island 
of high ground, it rises considerably above the surroimding 
:swamp. It is the smallest of the mounds, but is exactly 
similar in structure and contents to the others. The mound 
on the Pawaieykemoo is, according to Mr. Heard, * oblong in 
shape, across the narrowest part about 60 feet, the longest 
^0 feet, and round the base 220 feet. 

All the mounds — so far as they have been examined — 
are alike in character and contents. They consist chiefly of 
^eat accumulations of a small snail-like black and white 
shell {Neritina lineolata). In some the more decayed state 
of the shells and other refuse, even in the uppermost strata. 


seems to indicate a somewhat greater age. The mass^evi— 
dently lies in more or less distinct layers, between each two 
of which is a thin stratum of a hard, apparently burned^ 

Perhaps the most remarkable feature in all the mounds 
is the presence of these bumt-clay-Hke slabs between the 
layers of refuse. It has been suggested that these were 
used as baking-slabs, like the stone slabs used by some of 
the Arecunas, and other remote tribes, at the present day* 
But the suggestion is absurd. In the first place, these hard 
slabs do not occur in small pieces, unless when broken 
by the pickaxes and shovels of excavators, but extend in 
parallel strata over the whole mound ; and in the second 
place, they are so irregular in thickness, that bread could 
only be baked on them very imevenly. Nor are they iii the 
least like the baking-slabs of the Indians of the interior, 
which are very regularly shaped, oblong, and of sandstone. 
A very much more probable exx)lanation is that fires were 
made at intervals on the mounds, and that these ' slabs ^ 
are merely the burnt surface of shell and earth on which 
the fires rested. 

Among the shells which constitute the bulk of the mounds, 
have been found various objects deserving attention. In the 
Cabacaboori mound, among the vast accumulation of one 
species of shells, but in far less abundance, were some bivalve 
shells {Ludna)^ a few oyster-shells and fragments of a fresh- 
water shell, common in the river at the present day, and 
called by the Indians Kee-way^ together with pieces of 
crab-shells, bones of fish and of mammals, and lastly — and 
most important — human bones. These bones are invariably 
found scattered, and not as entire skeletons, and have been 
split, so as to allow of the extraction of the marrow. There 
were also some broken, and a few entire, stone implements, 
hammers probably and axe-heads, j)ieces of charcoal, and lumps 
of the red pigment called faroah, with which the Indians 
paint their bodies. Great quantities of sharp-edged frag- 
ments of white semi-transparent quartz were also present. 



Fig. 42. 

The shape of these and the fact that they do not occur natu- 
rally in the immediate neighbourhood, seems to suggest 
that they were used as implements, probably as knives, for 
which purpose they must have been brought from a distance. 
These objects occur in more or less abundance in all the 
mounds. It must, however, be noticed that the oyster-sheU 
occurs very sparingly in the Pomeroon mounds, but more 
abundantly in those nearer the Orinoco. But besides these 
objects which occur in all the mounds, a few peculiar examples 
were found, and peculiar features noticed in some. For 
instance,, at Cabacaboori, Mr. Brett found two small silver 
ornaments very similar to ear- 
rings, and still more to the 
nose-pieces worn by some of 
the Savannah Indians at the 
present day ; and in the same 
mound I myself found two 
implements delicately carved in 
bone, and some rod-like bodies 
of very puzzling nature. The 
only possible explanation of the 
latter which has occurred to me 

is that they are the calcined fore-teeth of deer or some 
such animal ; but this seems hardly satisfactory. One new 
species of shell {Purpura coroTiata) — in a single example — 
I also found in this mound. In one i)lace there were a few 
fragments of pottery, evidently all belonging to one vessel ; 
these are noticeable as the only examples of pottery ever 
recorded as discovered in a Guiana shell-mound. In the 
Sireeki mound it is worth notice that among other human 
bones was found one skull, in twenty-seven pieces, which 
was afterwards fitted together, and proved to be perfect but 
for a hole in the top apparently made by some such imple- 
ment as a stone hatchet. In the Piracca mound, at a depth 
of three feet from the surface, I found the stem of a tobacco- 
pipe of European manufacture, which is conclusive evidence 
that this mound at least was added to after Europeans first 



reaxjhed America. The only specially noticeable peculiarity 
of the Warramoori mound seems to have been that it seemed 
to contain an unusually large proportion of stone implements. 
This circumstance may, however, be due merely to the feet 
that it has been more extensively, if not thoroughly, searched 
than any of the t)ther mounds. 

The chief results of such examination as has been made 
of these mounds is, therefore, that they all occur about the 
Pomeroon, and northward from that to the Orinoco; that 
they were still made after the discovery of America ; that they 
consist mainly of shells of one species {Neritma Iviieolatd), 
arranged in layers, the upper surface of each of which has 
been hardened, apparently by the action of fire ; that a few 
other shells are included, and especially of an oyster, which 
occurs more and more abundantly in the mounds the nearer 
these are to the Orinoco ; that stone implements occur com- 
paratively in abundance, but that domestic implements, in- 
eluding pottery, and body ornaments, are almost entirely 
absent ; that remains of mammals occur, but in strikingly 
less quantity than relics of molluscs and fish ; and that 
human bones occur in a condition which clearly indicates 

Such are the facts concerning these moimds, and an attempt 
must now be made to infer from these something of their his- 
tory. It may be as well to state at once that the natural con- 
clusions are (1) that they were made not by the resident 
inhabitants of the country, but by strangers ; (2) that these 
strangers came from the sea and not from further inland ; 
and (3) that these strangers were certain Island Caribs, who 
afterwards took tribal form in Gruiana as the so-called Garibisi, 
or, as I have called them, True Caribs. 

I have already shown, that the habit of making these 
large kitchen-middens was not general among the Indians of 
Ouiana, and that those which occur must be due to some 
special circumstanoe«Fhich for a time affected the makers. 
This special circumstance was, I think, that the makers were 
strangers and marauders in a hostile country. 


That the mound-makers were strangers is shown in this 
way. The stratification of these momids, which has been de-^ 
scribed, points to the likelihood that the places were not con- 
tinuously, but repeatedly, occupied. Each layer probably 
consists of the refuse thrown away during one single visit. 
The fires made for cooking on each occasion on the surface 
of the layer deposited on the previous occasion would, to- 
gether with the action of the weather on that surface in the 
interval, harden the top of the layer and produce such strata 
as actually occur. The scarcity of the bones of mammals is 
further evidence of the same fact. Indians invariably prefer 
flesh as food, and are only driven to live upon molluscs by 
inability to procure meat. . Now game is still abundant in 
the mound district, and was, presumably, yet more abundant 
formerly. But, as I have often experienced with discomfort,, 
Indians, capital hunters as they are at home, cannot hunt in 
a strange country; even only fifty miles from theif homes I 
have known them declare their ignorance of the country as- 
an excuse for their failure to obtain game. The natural in- 
ference from these facts is that the mound-makers were 
strangers who were driven by their ignorance of the country 
to feed upon what they could most readily procure — that is^ 
upon molluscs and fish. 

The almost entire absence of pottery is yet further evi« 
dence. Indians, when at home, almost invariably boil their 
meat, and keep their supply of water, in clay vessels ; but 
when travelling, they carry no pottery with them, but cook 
their meat by roasting it on split sticks ; and, if it is abso- 
lutely necessary to carry any supply of water with them, 
keep it in hollow gourds. If, therefore, the mound-makers 
had been at home, fragments of pottery would certainly have 
occurred ; but if, as I suppose, they were travellers, this at 
once explains the absence of such fragments. Moreover, 
most of the mounds are in swamps, on islands far too small 
to ^erve as permanent settlements. It may, therefore, be 
taken for granted that the mound-makers were not permanent 

E E 


They were not only strangers, but strangers in a hostile 
country. This is indicated by the positions of the mounds ; 
for, with the exception of those at Warramoori and Cabaca^ 
boori, which are in strong positions on two of the very few 
hills in the district, they all stand in swamps, on islands of 
firm ground which might easily be temporarily defended. 
The need of defence against the people of the countiy, and 
of fresh water for their meals, seem to have been the chief 
points which regulated the choice of sites for these tem- 
porary camps. The same circumstance is also indicated by 
the large quantities of human bones which occur mingled 
with the refuse of countless meals. These were not placed 
there in the ordinary course of burial, for cot whole skele- 
tons, but only separate scattered bones, are found. The 
skull, already mentioned, on which was the mark of a 
murderous blow from some instrument, confirms this. More- 
over, these bones are found at a greater depth than would be 
the case if they had been placed there in burial ; and they 
have been broken, as is the case with the bones in the kitchen- 
middens of Em-ope, evidently to allow the marrow, of which 
all Indians are very fond, to be extracted. But as each 
Indian tribe lives in a separate district, within which come 
no interlopers of any other tribe, and as the tribal feeling is 
always very strong among Indians, so that they cannot be 
suspected of feeding on individuals of their own tribe, the 
mound-makers could only have obtained human flesh for 
food in or from a foreign country. That they obtained their 
supply from a foreign country — that they brought prisoners, 
that is to say, captured elsewhere, to these mounds and there 
eat them is very improbable, seeing that these mounds were 
not their homes. It is nearly certain, therefore, that they 
were marauders in a hostile country. 

That these stranger mound-makers came from the sea 
seems probable from the &ct that they lived, at least during 
their stay in those parts, largely on the sea-fish, of the rem- 
nants of which the moimds are in great part formed. Of all 
the moimds, that at Warramoori, which is only two or three 


liours' pull from the mouth of the Morooca, is the only one 
near the sea ; the others are at a considerable distance, more 
or less great, up the rivers. From the occurrence of the sea- 
shells it is evident that the mound-makers made frequent 
long journeys between the sea and the sites of their camps. 
Now it is far more likely that strangers making raids into the 
interior carried with them large stores of sea-flsh as food, 
than that strangers making a raid toward the sea from inland 
penetrated further than was necessary through a hostile 
country merely to get a supply of sea-fish when they had 
plenty of animal food nearer at hand ; and even if they had 
<ione so, they would have devoured the sea-fish near the shore 
rather than have dragged it back with them for so many 
miles. But to this probable evidence may be added the 
certain evidence that the oyster, the shells of which are 
found in the mounds, does not occur on the coast of Gruiana. 

For all these reasons, therefore, it seems probable that 
the mounds were made by a people hostile to the natives of 
the district, and coming from the sea. It now remains to be 
shown that there were in all probability parties of Caribs 
from the islands. 

That the True Caribs came from the islands is a tradition 
of the Indians, and is shown by the close similarity in their 
manners, language, and appearance to those of the Caribs of 
the island; and also by the hostility towards the True 
Caribs which to this day is the only feeling common to all 
the other tribes of Gruiana. Moreover, the records of the 
earlier voyages in the Caribbean seas tell of the migration. 
In passing to the mainland in their somewhat unseaworthy 
<^noes they would naturally land at the first point reached. 
This would be the district in which the shell-mounds occur, 
and the mounds apparently date from a time just about that 
at which the Carib immigration took place, which was about 
the time of the discovery of Gruiana, between three and four 
centuries ago. The state of the materials of the mounds cer- 
tainly does not indicate an earlier date, but rather that the 
mounds, though perhaps begun some four centuries ago, 

B B 2 


were possibly not finished till considerably later. The 
occurrence, to which I have already alluded, of a piece of 
tobacco-pipe of European manufacture in the Pirocca 
mounds, also makes it certain that parts of the mounds, at 
least, are not older than this ; and if they had been much 
more recent some record of their origin must have remained. 

That the Caribs were cannibals at the time indicated 
there is little doubt. Travellers of those days were all 
agreed as to this. Moreover, all the other tribes yet retain 
a tradition and dread of the man-eating habits of this, and 
of no other tribe. The Caribs all deny the fact when 
charged with it; but they do this with a superfluity of 
indignation which is in itself suspicious. On the other hand, 
there is not the least evidence to suggest that any of the 
other tribes then and now inhabiting the coast region of 
Guiana retained that custom up to so recent a date. 

Some slight evidence is also afforded by the fact that 
the True Caribs are in the habit of eating certain animal? 
which most Indians hold unclean and will not touch, and 
that the remains of these unclean animals — for example, 
those of the sting-ray — are amongst the commonest constitu- 
ents of the mounds. In short, there can be little doubt that 
the mounds were made by the Caribs at the time when they 
were passing from the islands, but ' had not yet permanently 
settled on the mainland. 

Lastly, it is almost an historic fact that the True Caribs 
did not come, once for all, in a body to the mainland and 
there remain ; but that they were in the habit of 
passing to and from the mainland in their raids from the 
islands, and only gradually settled in Guiana. This satisr 
factorily accounts both for the stratification of the mounds — 
each layer representing one visit — and for the fact that the 
mounds are most abundant near the Orinoco — that, is, at the 
point at which the marauders first landed ; and are less and 
less common further away from this point — that is, in pro- 
portion as each part of the country was less and less easily 
reached by these Caribs. 


It may be as well to meet a possible suggestion that the 
«hell-mounds were made by Wairaus, who axe known to 
have long inhabited the swamps in which these heaps 
occur, to have lived very largely upon fish, and who, alone 
of. all Indians of Guiana, still make small kitchen-middens. 
The suggestion, despite these facts, must be rejected for 
these among other reasons: the oyster-shells certainly were 
brought from the islands, and there is nothing to show that 
Warraus crossed, the sea at the time when the mounds were 
made. Moreover, they were at that time, even more than 
now, a miserable and weak tribe who had not the power, 
-even had they the will, to be cannibals; and, as I have 
^eady shown, these mounds must have been made by 
strangers in the Warrau coimtry. 


Mention has already been made of the stone implements 
which occur within the shell-mounds ; but, besides these, many 
others are found elsewhere in the country. Though, with a 
few trifling exceptions which will presently be described, they 
are no longer used, they occur in three diflferent ways — in the 
fihell-mounds, or scattered like natural stones on the surface 
of the ground, or, lastly, stored and carefully preserved in 
the houses of the modem Indians. 

The shell-mounds are, we have found reason to believe, 
made by Caribs from the West Indian islands. If so, it 
might a priori be supposed that the implements occurring 
in the shell-mounds would be identical in form with those 
of Carib origin from the islands. But if an equal number 
from each of the two sources is compared in some Euro- 
pean museums, it appears that those from the islands are 
far more elaborately finished and far more ornamental in 
«hape. The explanation of this fact is, I think, simple, and 
will throw some light on a habit of the Caribs, and probably 
of other users of stone implements. The Indians of Guiana 
still often spend their leisure time in making comparatively 


highly ornamental weapons (though these are no longer of 
stone) and utensils ; but they do not actually use these, but 
keep them at home, and are proud of them, while when they 
travel they take with them implements the production of 
which cost less labour. It has already been explained that 
Indians when travelling do not risk their pottery by carrying 
it with them; and it has been shown that this modem 
habit of the Indians almost certainly prevailed among the 
old mound-makers. This points to the likelihood that the 
Garibs, on their predatory raids from the islands to the 
mainland, carried with them only their less elaborate imple- 
ments. It is these, therefore, that occur in the shell- 
mounds. But if this is so, it is evident that among the 
elaborate implements from the islands ought to be found 
others of simpler form, corresponding to those from the 
shell-mounds. That these simpler forms do not appear in 
museum series as abundantly as, according to this theory,, 
would seem natural, is probably due simply to the fact that 
the finer forms have been more diligently collected and 
brought to Europe than the simpler. 

As regards the implements which are found scattered on 
the surface of the ground, they occur singly throughout the 
country, except in the eastern district about the Corentyn 
river. They are, however, most numerous nearer the 
Orinoco ; this may be due to the fact that that district was 
the gate through which the most warlike tribes — those of the 
Carib branch — first entered Guiana, and was the place where 
they had to fight for footing among the hostile natives. 
These implements are also remarkably abundant about a 
small spot in the interior called by the Indians Toocano, 
on the Brazilian side of the Takootoo river. A possible ex- 
planation of this latter fact may be that at Toocano was once 
a manufactory of such things. It has already been stated 
that each tribe in Guiana does not make for itself all that it 
requires, but has some special object which it manufiactures 
for exchange with other tribes. It therefore seems not 
improbable that the making of stone implements may havfr 


been chiefly carried on by special tribes, or even, as is still 
the case with the far-famed ourali-poison, by special families, 
one of which may have had its home at Toocano.* 

The third set of stone implements is composed of those 
which are found at the present time stored among the odds 
and ends in the possession of Indians. These are now never 
used for their original purpose, though I have seen stone- 
pointed arrows in use, but only as toys. There are probably 
two reasons for the retention of these implements now that 
their original use has disappeared. In the first place, stone 
axe-heads are now chiefly valued and kept by the Indians as 
being the best instruments for smoothing and polishing the 
clay in pottery-making; though, if one of these is not at 
hand, any smooth, water-worn pebble is used instead.* In 
the second place, some superstitious value seems to be 
attributed to these stones. They are sometimes to be found 
among the separately kept personal properties of men ; in 
which cases they cannot be potters' implements, as that art is 
practised only by the women. Moreover, a considerable num- 
ber of these implements are found more or less ornamented 
with colouring matter — sometimes merely a coating of the red 
pigments (£ajroah or caraweera) ordinarily used by the Indians^ 
but sometimes, as in an example in the Christy collection, 
with a somewhat elaborate pattern, of indubitable Indian exe- 
cution. The useless preservation of these stones by men^ 
and their occasional ornamentation, seem to indicate that 
some special value, not dependent on their usefulness, is 

* Ir this connection, readers of 'Hiawatha* will probably remember 
the special ' arrow-maker ' mentioned in North American Indian traditions. 

^ In passing, I may repeat that the so-called 'charm-stones' from 
Guiana, of which there are two examples in the Christy collection, and which 
have been supposed to be pebbles worn into their present shape artificially,, 
merely by being perpetually carried in the hands of young children, as a 
means of divining, by the shape finally assumed by the stone, the character 
of the individual, are probably merely naturally water-worn porphyry 
pebbles, such as occur in large numbers in the beds of certain rivers 
in the interior of Guiana, and, because of their smoothness, are collected 
by the Indians and used as polishing implements for clay ; at least, that is 
the use to which they are now put, and such is the explanation given me 
by the Indians themselves. 


attached to them ; and this value can hardly but be super* 

Though these implements have thus been roughly classi- 
fied according to their present mode of occurrence, it must 
not be supposed that any real difference in character, either 
as regards form or degree of finish, marks the three classes. 
At one time I thought that those from the shell-mounds 
were less finely finished than those from elsewhere ; but 
after seeing a larger number of examples firom all sources I 
was obliged to conclude that no such distinction can be 

I now turn fix>m the general subject of stone implements 
in British Guiana to consider certain actual examples, seven 
in number, fix>m which one or two isolated facts may be 

The two types that occur most commonly are shown in 
Figs. 1 and 3, Plate 10. No. 3 is the most abundant of all. Its 
shape, though slightly variable, has been well compared to 
that of the section of a ^ button mushroom,' cut firom the apex 
of the cap down through the stem. Further allusion will 
presently be made to the groove or notch on each side of the 
stone. Implements of this form, though they occur else- 
where, are especially abundant in the shell-mounds, firom 
which circumstance, as firom the fact that they can hardly 
have been very formidable as weapons, it seems not unlikely 
that they were domestic implements such as would be used 
for pounding, etc., for cracking shells of molluscs and bones 
of animals.' No. I is only less abundant in Cruiana, but is a 
far commoner type elsewhere. This, too, occurs in the shell- 
mounds, as a surface implement, and in the possession of 

No. 2 is somewhat similar in shape to the last type, but 
differs firom this in being flatter, more like the blade of a 
knife, and in all the examples, not few in number, that I 
have seen of this type, the narrow end — that which was un- 

' This form seems to correspond closely with the 'hammer* repre* 
rented on the left in fig. 11 of Wilson's Prehistoric Man (London, 1S65). 


Half leaJ sis 


•doubtedly attached to the handle — is peculiarly fractured. 
The chief interest of this latter &ci is that, I think, it indi- 
cates the exact use of these blades and an unusual mode of 
attachment to the handle. The chief weapons of war of the 
Indians are the clubs {tiki) of heavy wood, which have already 
been described. The habit of inter-tribal war having 
practically disappeared, though only within a few years, such 
clubs are rarely made. The few that are still to be found in 
the possession of Indians are wholly of wood. But there is 
an Indian tradition that these used to be made more formid- 
able by the addition of a stone blade ; and in the Christy 
collection there is an example with a small stone blade, 
identical in shape with that now under notice, inserted in 
one side, as an axe-blade is in its handle.^ The curious 
fracture at the narrow end of blades of this type is not only 
exactly such as would be made if a blade of this kind were 
broken, by some sudden shock, from a club of heavy wood 
into a pit in which it had been &stened, but is also, as far as 
I am aware, not seen in blades of any other shape. It is 
therefore very probable that these blades formed part of war- 
clubs ; and, if so, the mode of attachment to the handle, by 
socketing into the wood, is very unusual. There is one other 
circumstance which, though by itself of little significance, 
may be mentioned in connection with this hypothesis. 
Having on one occasion asked some Indians to show me how 
they thought such implements ought to be fastened into 
handles, they procured examples and fitted them. The 
nature of the result is shown in this figure — 

Fig. 43. 

War-olcb with Stonb Biads. 

The handle is of light wood, which would certainly split 
at the first blow, and the whole weapon appear absurd. But 

' Since this was written, I have procured an example of one of these 
«tone8 stuck in its handle. See p. 300, ante. 


closer attention shows that the blade is fastened into the- 
handle just as appears to have been the case in the war- 

No* 4 is a small, but beautifully finished, grooved blade». 
These grooves, or, to use a more expressive word, notches^, 
are just such as would be favourable to fastening the stone on 
to one side of a stick. They are very like the notches which 
the Indian still makes on the cross-beams of his house, at the 
point at which, with flexible plant stems, he lashes these 
beams on to the upright comer posts. Yet this actual ex^ 
ample, even if thus lashed to a wooden handle, is so small 
that its use is hardly realisable. 

No. 5 is again a grooved form, but with the difference 
that just below each groove is a projecting shoulder, which 
may have had some definite use, but which is certainly or- 
namental, and makes this implement approach more nearly 
than any other I know from Guiana to the elaborate stone 
implements of the island Garibs. 

No. 6 is a very peculiar example. In shape it much' 
resembles a human foot, with the leg as far as the knee. The 
cutting edge is where the knee would be in a leg ; and the 
sole of the foot is so hollowed as exactly to fit the thumb when 
the stone is grasped in the hand. There can be little doubt 
that this implement was never intended to be fitted with a 
handle, but to be grasped ; and under these circumstances it 
would admirably answer the purpose of a chisel or adze, or 
would make a formidable offensive weapon when the holder 
was at close quarters with his antagonist. Mr. Tylor has 
pointed out to me that some Indians, I believe in British 
Columbia, have been seen to fight with stones thus grasped 
in the hand, and that this is done with such agility and dex- 
terity that the Indian with but a stone in his hand can be 
formidable to an opponent armed with a revolver. My im- 
plement was possibly used in this way. 

No. 7 is in shape so strikingly like an ordinary European 
hatchet-blade that it is undoubtedly a copy in stone of such a 
metal blade. Its beautiful finish indicates that it was made 


while the art of stone-working was still well understood. It 
may; therefore, be assumed that it was made after the 
arrival of Europeans, but before these new comers had de- 
stroyed the stone age — or probably in the sixteenth century. 
It probably corresponds in date with the rock-engraved 
figure of a European galley, of which mention has been 

One kind of stone utensil which sometimes occurs, and is 
still in use in very remote parts of the country, deserves 
mention. This is the cooking slab on which their flat oat- 
cake-like cassava bread is cooked. At the present time 
Indians generally use a circular iron griddle of European 
manu&cture for this purpose ; but before they were able to 
procure this, they chose the flattest slabs of stone, generally 
sandstone, and baked their bread on these. Even now the 
Arecunas near Boraima — as probably also the yet more re- 
mote tribes — ^who seldom or never visit town, and who live in 
a sandstone region, use these stone slabs. These are so 
highly valued that it is difficult to persuade an Indian to 
part with one. The only example I was able to procure 
was a flat piece of sandstone about three-quarters of an inch 
in thickness, oblong in shape, and with the comers neatly cut 
off. It requires, as I have seen, a considerably longer time 
to bake bread on these stones than on the iron griddles. 


The two traces of old Indian life which yet remain to be 
mentioned are both given on the authority of Mr. C. Bar- 
rington Brown. One is a circle of standing stones. Of this 
Mr. Brown says, * In the Pacaraima mountains, between the 
villages of Mora and Itabay, the path passes through a circle 
of square stones placed on one end, one of which has a carv- 
ing on it.' In a note he adds that ^ this circle of stones is 
very like that on Stanton Moor, shown in Ferguson's * Bude 
Stone Monuments.' 



Many examples of ancient village eites are also mentioned 
by this same traveller. These are said to be only distin- 
guishable from the surrounding country by the rich black 
colour of the soil, and by the abundance of broken fragments 
of pottery. Of course it is possible that these sites are those 
of deserted villages of comparatively, or even very, modem 
date. But, on the other hand, as all the reported examples 
occur jGur inland, and as the inland tribes make but veiy little 
pottery, it is more likely that such places were the homes of 
tribes other than those which now inhabit the surrounding 
country. Only a very careful search in such places can settle 
this question. And such a search would probably be rewarded 
by results of extreme ethnological and archaeological value. 







f dw* Wellar 






Akbamookra Fall, 25 
Amookoo, Lake, 36, 49 
Aznootoo Falls, 60 
Animal Hf e, 106 
AnU, 147 

Apooterie Settlement, 25 
Aretaka Bapids, 8 
Arinda Settlement, 21 
Aykooroo Settlement, 60 

Bartika Gbove, 4 

Bathing, dangers of, 140 

Bats, 17, 115 

Bird life, 116 

Brazils, boxmdaiy with, 34, 38, 40 

' Bnck-gans,' 36 

Butterflies, 144 

Camping, 12 

Canakoo Mountains, 33, 38 
Cattle-farms, Brazilian, 38, 41 
Children, Indian, at plaj, 39 
Chirura, 38 
Chowrah Rapids, 59 
Cobungroos, 8 
Cooriebrong River, 58 
Cotinga River, 40 
Creeks, 7 

El Dorado, 36 
Essequibo River, 2, 25 
Etannime Fall, 53 
Euwari-manakuroo Settlement, 38 

FiSHBS, 137 
Flowers, 37, 57, 73, 89 
Foliage, 5, 88, 89 
Forests of Ouiana, 88 
Forest tract, 2 

Gluck Island, 14 
Guns used by Irdians, 36 

Haimara-kuboo Creek, 22 
Health of Interior, 21 
Herons* song, 15 
Highways of Guiana, 3 
Hog-hunting, 64 
Hospitality, Indian, 40 

Indian Gathebinqs, 29, 32, 35 
Inhabitants of Guiana, 4 
Insect life, 140 
Ireng River, 40 
Itaboos, 53 

Jaguar, a, 23 
Jiggers, 153 
Joke, an Indian, 35 

Kaieteur Fall, 56, 66, 76, 78 
advice to those visiting, 80 
dimensions of, 66 
dreaded by Indians, 64 
formation of, 68 
path to, 66 
Kaieteur Ravine, 61 
Kaieteur Savannah, 66, 74 
Karanakru Settlement, 32 

Mahoo River, 48 
Manoa, 36 
Moe, 11, 15, 18 
Monkey-jump, the, 6 
Mopai Settlement, 31 
Moraballi Creek, 6 
Moral Settlement, 28 



Mora tree on fire, 23 

Morning on the river, 13 

Hoflquitoes, 141, 151 

* Mother-in-law of Spiders,* the, 155 

Mowraseema Cataract, 59 

Kappi Riybr, 38 
Night in the forest, 12, 23 
Nikari-karus, 17, 38 
No6e-omament, 52 

Omars, 19, 40 
Ooropocari Fall, 22 

Pacaraima Mountains, 33, 36 
Pacontont Bapids, 59 
Paiwari-feasting, 60 
Paiwari-kaira, 19 
Farima, 36 
Paripie Creek, 17 
Peaiman*8 vengeance, 20 
Pepper-rubbing, 53 
Pimra landing, 31 

River, 4ft 

Settlement, 33 
Plants, typical, 92 
Portages, 22, 59, 61, 73 
Potaro River, 57. 

QuABTAMA Settlement, 28 
Qaatata Settlement, 32, 33 
Quippoo writing, 39 

Rapids, 8 

confused with cataracts and 
falls, 11 

hauling up the, 10, 19 

shooting the, 51, 53, 79 
Rappoo Cataracts, 25 
Reptile life, 129 
Rio Branco, 40 
« River-men, 5 
Roads, 3 
Roopoonooni, 26 
Roraima, 82 

Savannah tract, 2 
Scenery — 

Amootoo, at, 60 

Cattle-farms, on, 45 

Coast, of, 4 

Creeks, of, 7 

Forest, in, 96 

Forest ponds, 14, 31 

Indian gatherings, at, 29, 35 

Itaboos, in, 51 

Eaieteur, Fall of, 65, 70, 78 

Kaietenr Ravine, of, 62, 64 

Eaieteur Savannah, of, 66 

Potaro, of, 58, 72 

Rapids, in, 8, 53 

River-bank, of, 29, 101 

Rivers in flood, 48, 53, 72 

Rivers, of, 5, 6, 16, 26 

Sandbanks, of, 16 

Savannah, on, 29, 31, 33, 36, 105 

Storms, tropical, 51 

Takootoo, of, 40 
Shooting Falls, 53, 79 
Steamers, 4 

St. Joaquim, 36, 38, 40 
Stone implements, 39 
Storm, a tropical, 51 
Sugar tract, 1 

Takootoo River, 38 
Teeth filed to a point, 38, 45 
Timber cutting, 2 
Timber tract, 2 
Tookooie Rapids, 64 
Toomatoomari Cataract, 57, 71 
Tracts, four, into which the country 
may be distinguished, 1 

Forest tract, 2 

Savannah tract, 2 

Sugar tract, 1 

Timber tract, 2 
Tropical storm, a, 51 
Turtles' eggs, 18 

Wapiana murderer, a, 51 
Warrapoota Rapids, 18 
Warratoo, 63 

.Sandbanks, 16, 27 

Yarewah Settlement, 39 
Yucarisi Settlement, 17 




ACKAWOI Il^DIANS, 162, 165, 167, 169, 
170, 173, 193, 195. 201, 203, 223, 
225, 245, 272 
JEolian harps, 310 
Affection, 213, 219 
Agriculture — 

distribution of labour between 

the sexes, 251 
fields, appearance of, 250 
crops of, 251 
cultivation of, 251 
desertion of, 253 
failure of, 254 
harvest, time of, 252 
position of, 250 
preparation of, 251 
produce of, 253 
weeds of, 252 
Amaripa Indians, 162, 170 
Amazons, 385 

Ancestors, mistaken hj missionaries 
for gods, 366 
regard for, 366 
Animals, no distinction recognised 
between men and other animals, 

fabulous, 354, 384 

Indian knowledge of, 351 

language of, 351 

peculiarities of, accounted for in 

legends, 381 
spirits of, 351 
Animism, spirits and bodies, recogni- 
tion of, 343 

separability of, 348 
spirits, conception of, 343 
seen in dreams, 344 
in visions, 346 
in death, 343 

omnipresence of, 350, 355, 356 
in animals, 352 
in plants, 353 
in rocks, 353 
in water, 354 
of diseases (?), 355 
of ancestors, 366 
transmlssibility of, 349, 360 
after death of the body, 358 
duration of existence of, 358 
place of existence, 359 
life led after death, 362 
^ods not recognised, 366 
worship not paid, 367 

Antiquities, nature of, 390 

rock-pictures, Andree Bichardson, 
403 et seq, 
date of, 391, 408 
distribution of, 394 
engravings, deep, 397 

shallow, 394 
forms represented, 395, 397 
origin of, 402 
paintings, 391 
position of, 397, 398, 407 
timehri, name for, 394 
shell-mounds, contents of, 413 
date, probable, of, 416 
distribution of, 412 
makers of, 416 
nature of, 410 
standing-stones, 427 
stone implements, baking-slabs, 
manufacture of, 423 
occurrence, modes of, 421, 423 
types of, 424 
uses, probable of, 425 
villages, sites of ancient, 428 
Waterton, Charles, on, 389 
Arawak branch, 162, 165 
Arawak Indians, 162, 165, 167, 168, 
170, 172, 176, 188, 201, 203, 204. 
244, 245, 272, 284, 290, 295, 326, 
376, 386 
Arecuna Indians, 162, 165, 168, 169, 
170, 173, 188, 192, 194, 203, 207, 
238, 245, 262, 272, 299, 300 
Arecunas, 158 
Arrows {see also under Weapons), 234 

manufacture of, 303 
Arts— Basket-work, 278 
belts, 281 

cassava utensils, 280 
materials for, 278 
pegalls, 278 
quakes, 281 
surianas, 281 
Boat-building, 292 
Cajisava-graters, manufacture of. 

Decay of native arts, 269 
Division of labour, sexual, 215 
importance of, 271 
tribal, 271 
Feathers, artificial sources of, 306 
uses of, 303 



Arts — cnntimted 

Fibres, preparation of, 283 
Ornaments, personal, manufac- 
ture of, 303 
Plaiting, 291 

Poisons, preparation of, 310 
Pottery, basket-work round ves- 
sels, 275 

clay for, 275 

dishes (sappooras), 275 

method of, 276 

pots (buck-pots), 274 

skill in, 275 

water-vessels (goglets), 276 

women's work, 277 
Productive power of Indians, 269 
Spinning, 284 

seta fibre, 283 

cotton, 285, 286 

crowia fibre, 284 

fibres used, 283 

methods of, 284, 285 

methods distinguishing 

tribes, 287 

silk-grass, 284 

string. 285, 288 

tibisiri fibre, 283 
Teeth, use of, in ornament making, 

Weapon-making, 298 
Weaving, 288 

cloth, rude, 290 

hammocks, 288 
Wood -working, 292 
Atorais, 158, 162, 170 

Babragots, 248 

Baking-slabs, 427 

Ball-play, 326 

Bark-cloth, 291 

Basket-work, 278 

art of, dying out, 282 

Bathing after meals, 191 

Beads, 201 

*Beenas' (ije. charms used in hunt- 
ing), 228 

Benabs, 208 

Benches, 297 

Beverages, 268 

Blow-pipes, 245 

manufacture of, 300 

Boat-building, 292 

Bows, manufacture of, 303 

Branch, to express an Indian group 
of a certain value, 161 

Buck-pots, 274 

Buck-shells, 295 

Burial, 226 

•Calling 'birds, 248 
Canoes, 293 

tents for, 295 
Caravreera. SI 6 

Carib Branch, 159, 162, 166, 198, 22-^ 
Carib, True, 9, 168, 162, 163, 165, 167,. 

169, 170, 173, 186, 192, 193, 198, 

201, 203, 207, 225, 244, 246, 262,. 

264, 272, 288, 290, 296, 311, 325 
Carib, True, explanation of the term^ 

Caribisi, 158 
Carinya, 158 
Casiri, 264 
Cassareep, 261 
Cassava, 260 

effect of, on physique of Indians,, 

legend of first discovery of, 379 
Cassava-grater, 260, 282 
Cassava-squeezer, 260, 280 
•Charm-stones,' 277, 423 
Children, occupations of, 39, 219, 27^ 

hammocks for carrying, 288 
Classification of Indians of Guiana^ 

Clay, used as body paint, 317 
Cleanliness, 191 

Clothing, European, adoption of, 20O 
Cloth-weaving, 289 
Cobungrus, 8, 158 
Cokerite oil, 314 
Cooking, 256 

contempt of men for, 256 
Corials, 295 
Cotton, 283, 286 
Couvade, 217, 222 
Courtesy to strangers, 9, 40 
Crab-oil, 314 

Creation, none thought of, 377, 37d 
Crowia-fibre, 283 
Curan. See Ourall 

Dances, 324 
Dancing-sticks, 322 
Dandyism, 199 
Daurais, 158 
Death, 224 

conception of, 343 
Di-di, 362 

Diseases as evil spirits, 332, 356 
Divi^on of labour between the sexes, 

between tribes, 271 
Dogs, hunting, 232 
Dreams, belief in reality of, 344 



Dress of men, girdle, 194 
waist-cloth, or lap, 194 
of women, apron or queyn, 194 
partial adoption of European, 200 
order in which this is adopted, 

for festivals, 323 
Dmms, 309 
Drum-sticks, 309, 322 
Dyes used as body-paints — 

Caraweera, red (^Bignania chicka\ 

Clay, white felspathic, 317 
Faroah, red (Bixa orello/na)^ 316 
Lana, blue-black ( Qenipa amtri- 

cana)j 316 
Yellow dye of unknown origin, 

Egos, as food, 265 
£mmawarrif 343 
Emmoo, 262 
Energy of Indians, 269 
Engaricos, 169, 171 

Family, 161 
Family names, 176 
Family systems, 175 

Arawak svstem, descent in female 
Hne, 185 
Intermarriage of families, 178 
List of families, 176 
Origin of family names, 184 

Indications of original systems in 
other tribes, 186 
Fan, for blowing fire, 269 
Farine, 263 
Faroah, 316 
Feasts, Paiwarie, 319 

arrival of the guests, 321 

ball-play at, 326 

dances at, 324 

description of, 323 

dresses, special, worn at, 322 

invitations to the guests, 319 

preparation of the liquor, 320 

races, foot, at, 325 

shield-game at, 327 

whip-game at, 326 

wrestling at, 327 
Feathers, artificial change of colour 

in living birds, 305 
Feather ornaments, 198, 303 

manufacture of, 303 
Fibres, various kinds used, 283 

preparation of, 283, 284 

uses of, 288 

Fields, 260 

periodical desertion of, 253 
Fire by friction of wood, 257 
with flint and steel, 257 
legends of a universal, 375 
Fish-poisons, 234 
Fish, shooting, 236 
Flood-myths, 375 
Flutes of bone, 309 

of wood, 309 
Folk-lore — 
Di-di, 352 

Historical legends of tribal wars 
and migrations, 286 
' Missionary action on legends, 373 
Mythical legends, ancestral 
stories, 366 
animal stories, 381 
appearance of species, 376, 

deluge stories, 371, 380 
fictitious beings, of, 384 
Omar, 363 
Ourali (curare), superstition as to, 

StK)ry-telling by night, 371 
Universality of legends, such as 
of a flood. 374 
explanation of, 375 
Cassava, bread from, 260 
farine from, 263 
preparation of roots, 260 
utensils for preparation of, 
Clean and unclean, 266 
Cooking, methods of — 
babracoting, 265 
baking, 261 
pepper-pot, 256 
Fire, method of kindling, 257 
Meals, no regular, 256 
Meat, some considered unclean, 

Men and women eat apart, 256 
Preparation of, by women, 265 
Quantity eaten, 16 
Salt, 266 
Victuals — 

-^ta palm-nuts, 206, 267 
Awarra palm-nuts, 267 
billicoes, 267 
bullet-tree fruit, 267 
capsicums, 261 
cashews, 261 

wild, 268 
cassava, 260 
cokerite palm-nuts, 206, 2G7 

F F 



Food — eantiMied 
Victuals — 
com, 263 
eggs, 265 
fish, 265, 267 
greenheart-floar^ 262 
insects, 266 
meat, 256 
mora-floor^ 262 
paiwarie, 263, 268 
palm- wine, 268 
Paripie palm-nuts, 267 
Souari nuts, 267 
turtles, 248 

Foot-races, 326 

Forest Indians, 171 

Fruit as food, 267 

Funeral customs, 226 


ball-play, 326 

dances, 324 

foot-Taces> 326 

whip-game, 326 

wrestling, 326 
Gods, none recognised, 366 

ancestors mistaken by mission- 
aries for, 366 
Goglets, 275 
Gratitude, 213 

Habits, difpebenceb of, among 

the tbibes, 169 
Ha-ha shield, for wrestling, 32G 
Haiari, 234 

legend of its first discovery, 383 
Hair, used for plaiting, 292 
Hammocks, 288 

Brazilian, 291 

for infants, 289 

ornamented with feathers, 291 
Heaven and hell, 360 
Historical legends, 387 
Honesty, 214 
Houses — 

benabs, 208 

Development of house building, 

Distribution of, 202 

Forest houses, 204 

Material of, 209 

Pile houses, 203, 207 

Hound houses, 205 

Savannah houses, 205 

Square houses, 204 

Structure of houses, 204, 205 

Houses — continued 

Types of : pile houses. 207 
round, with walls, 205 
square, without walls, 204 
intermediate forms, 205 
Walled houses, 205 
Wall- less houses, 204 
Walls, history of adoption of, 205 
Hunting, beenas (charms) used in 
hunting, 228 

dogs used in, 23^ 
emnakif 229 
fishing, arrows for, 234 
bait^ 237 

diving after fish, 239 
hook and line, 238 
nets, 238 

poisoning for, 233 
shooting, 234 
traps, 238 
for game, arrows used for, 240 
iguana-shooting, 239 
importance of, 227 
parties for, 228 
poisons used in fishing, 234 
turtle-shooting, 239 
weapons of the chase — 
arrows, bird, 244 
fish, 234 
game, 240 
harpoon, 234 
poisoned, 242 
turtle, 239 
blow-pipes, 245 
g^nns, 240 

Inactivity of Indians extlainep, 

Inanimate objects, spirits of, 353 
Insects as food, 266 

Jonah-myths, 386 

Eapohns, 158 
Xaramanni, 316 
Kenaimas — 
acts of, 329 
methods of work, 331 
powers, supposed, of, 332 
relation to peaiman, 328 
System, the — 

explanation of, 329 
kenaima in reality, 329 

suppositions, 329 
uses of, 330 
Vendetta, relation to, 330 



Lana, 317 
Languages, 160, 165 
Lap, 194 

Legends, See Folk- lore 
Life of Indians — 

birth, couvade, 217, 222 

weaning, 219 
chUdhood, 219, 278 
day- tasks, 215 

death, carelessness of the sick, 
funeral, 225 

of peaiman, 225 
duration of life, 191, 224 
family relations, 223 
marriage, betrothal, 221 
ceremonies, 222 
method of obtaining wife, 

polygamy, 223 
names, personal, 219 
night, how spent, 216 
Lip ornaments, 193, 199 
Lokono, 158 

Macquarie whips, 326 

Macusi Indians, 162, 165, 167, 169, 

170, 173, 186, 192, 196, 203, 207, 
217, 222, 223, 226, 245, 257, 272, 
281, 288, 299, 311, 325 

Maiongkongs, 169, 326 

Maize cakes, 263 

Malformations (artificial) of the 

body, 191 
Mantles of cotton, 199, 291 
Maopityans, 163, 171 
Marriage, 221 

ceremonies, 222 
Matapie, 280 
Maternal descent, 185 
Meyanow, a lost tribe, 386 
Midwifery, 217 
Migrations of Indians into Guiana, 

171, 287, 419 
Modesty, 194 
Moral character, 213 
Morality, 223 

not associated with animism, 
Mourning the dead, 224 
Music, 323 
Musical instruments — 

iSolian harp, 310 

drums, 308 

drum-stick, 309 

flutes, bone, 309 

Musical Insteumbnts— <wwi^wt«»<£ 

flutes, wood, 309 

pan-pipes, 309 
Myths. See Folk-lore 

Nakedness unknown, 193 
Names, personal, system of, 219 

unwillingness to tell, 220 

English, 220 
Necklaces, 197 

manufacture of, 307 

of children, made of special 
seeds, 199 
News, rapidity of transmission, 271 
Nikari-karus, 17, 38, 168, 282 
Nose ornaments, 198 

Oils, prepabation op, 314 
Omar, 19, 40, 353, 386 
Ornaments, men's, anklets, 192 

arm-bands, 193 

beads, 197 

ear ornaments, 197 

feather ornaments, 303 

head-dresses, 303 

lip ornament, 198 

necklaces, 196, 307 

nose ornament, 198 

paints, body, 195, 323 

shoulder-cloaks, 198, 291 

shoulder-ruffs, 198, 306 
women's, anklet*», 192 

arm-bands, 193 

beads, 199 

fillets of cotton, 199 

paints, body, 196 

pins, 193 
Ourali (Aurare), 243, 311 

Packing provisions, method of, 

Paddles, 296 
Painting the body, 195 
P&iwari, 263 

quantity consumed, 324 
Pal wari-f easts, 319 
Pan-pipes, 309 
Paramonas, 158 
Partamonas, 158 
Paterfamilias, authority of, 211 
Patterns on baskets, 281 

on bone flutes, 309 

on pottery, 277 

in woven cloth, 291 

drawn by men as well as women, 

p T 2 



Peaiman, authority of, 211, 223 

belief (of IndianB) in power of, 

self -credit of peaiman, 347 
as doctor, 328, 334 
as priest, 328 
edacation of, 334 
funeral, special of, among Ma- 

cusis, 225 
hereditary character of, 334 
kenaima, relation to, 328 
method of work, 335 r 
power of, 211, 334, 339 
Pegalls, 278 
Pepper-pot, 260 
Pepper, et cet.y rubbed into the eyes, 

Petroglyphs, 403 
Physical characters — 

artificial characters, ear-piercing, 
hairs, removal of, 193 
leg stricture, 192 
lip-piercing, 193 
nose-piercing, 193 
skull-modifications, 191 
teeth-filing, 38, 45 
constitution of Indians, 188 
face, 189 
hair, 35, 189 
limbs, 188 
muscle, 188 

natural characters, general, 188 
of Ackawoi, 167 
of Arawak, 167 
of Arecuna, 168 
of Carib, True, 167 
of Macusi, 167 
of Wapiana, 167 
of Warau, 167 
skin, 11, 188 
stature, 167, 188 
Pianoghottos, 170, 196 
Picture-writing, 391 
Pile-dwellings, 203 
Pirianas, 159, 181 
Plants used by Indians — 

JEta-palm (see Mauritiaflca^uotd) 
Anacardium rhifUfcarpfu^ drink 

prepared from fruit of, 268 
AnnmiaMay fibre made from, 283, 

284, 303 
Anthurium acavle, leaves used 

as thatch, 210 
Apiiha sp. ? wood of, used to rub 

fire, 267 
Arrow-reed (seeGj/nerium saeeha- 

Plants used by Ijjdians — eont. 
Artocarpus sp. ? charcoal from 

mixed w^ith potter's clay, 377 
Arundinaria Schamhurgkiijh\o^- 

pipes made of, 300 
A%jAdo8j)€rfiium excelsum, pad- 
dles made from, 296 
Astrocaryum tucvmnides, fire- 
fans made from, 259 
fruit of eaten, 267 
oil from, 315 
Awarra palm (see Astrocaryvm 

Bavihnta sp. ? used for arrow 
points, 242 
sp ? used in midwifery, 217 
Bigmmia chicka, dye from as 

body paint, 316 
Billicoe (see Nigritia Sckam- 

JBixa oreU/ina, dye from as body 

paint, 316 
Booba-palm (see Iriartea excr^ 

Bromelia, fibre from, 283, 284, 

Brosimum Aubletii, staves of 
chiefs made from, 212 
bofvs made from, 303 
Bullet-tree (see Mimutops halata) 
Cal4idium, sp. var., used as 

* charms ' in hunting, 228 
Captieufn^ sp. var., cultivated, 
an ingredient in * curare,' 31 1 
use in connection with ani- 
mism, 369 
CcMTopa gnianentiSy oil prepared 

from, 314 
Caraweera (see Bignonin ehicka) 
Carludovica plnmierii^ stems of 

used in basket-work, 278 
Cashew, wild (see Anacardium 

Cassava (see Jampha manihat) 
Ctjcropia peltafay leaves of, used 

as sandpaper, 298 
Clihadium ofperum, as fish poison, 

Cokerite-palm (see MaxindUana 

Connami(see niba-divm a^perum) 
Copaifera puhijlora, boats made 
from, 296 

bows made from, 303 
Com (see Zed) 
Cotton, 283, 285, 303 
Crabwood (see CarapaguianemU) 



Plants used by Indians— crm*. 
Crowia (see Bromelia and Anan- 

Curare (see Stri/chnos toxifera) 
Curatella aviericana, leaves of, 

used as sandpaper, 298 
Dealibanna (see Geanoma hacvli- 

Eriodendron, fibre from, used to 

* feather darts,' 246 
Euf>erpe oleracea, laths cut from 

stem of, 210 

lining of spathe used as 
cigarette wrapper, 318 

stems used in building, 203, 
Faroah (see Bixa arellana) 
OauUluTia vregon, wood of, used 

to rub fire, 257 
Otnipa omericafM, dye from, as 

body paint, 316 

used as fish bait, 237 
Oeonoma baoiiliferaf leaves of 

used as thatch, 209 
Greenheart (see Nectandra Bo- 

6v>ilie1ma speciotta, cultivated, 

fruit of, eaten, 267 
Gynerium saccliaroidei^ shafts of 
arrows made of, 303 •=• 

splinters used in midwifery, 
Haiari (see Lanchoca/rpus densi- 

Haiari-balli (see MuUera manili- 

Hatie (see Uevea Sjfruceana) 
Herea Spruceanay fruit of, used as 

fish bait, 238 
Hippea^rum equestre, cultivated 

for unknown purpose, 204 
Hyawa (see Idea h-epttiphylld) 
Hymeriipa courbaril, boats made 

of, 296 
Jcica heptaphylla, resin from, 

used, 294, 316 
Iriartea exorrhiza^ laths cut 

from stems of, 209, 210 
IgohnodpJion sp. 7 used for basket- 
work, 278 

leaves used to thatch boat- 
tents, 295 

mats made from, a^ * charms ' 
in hunting, 229 
Iturite (see IschiwHphon) 
Janipha manikat, bread from, 261 

cassareep from, 261 

Plants used by Indians— c<m*. 

Janipha fnanihot, farine from, 263 
cultivated, 261 
paiwari from, 263 
starch from (emoo\ 262 

Kakeralli (see Lecythu ollaria) 

Karamanni, resin used, 282, 294, 

Eawta (see Artocarpvt) 

Lana (see Genipa ainericana) 

Lance wood, wood of used to rub 
fire, 257 

Zecytkis ollaria, cigarette 'papers ' 
of bark, 318 
waist-cloths made from bark 
of, 194, 291 

Letterwood (see JBroHmnm Anh- 

Locust-tree (see Hymenaa Ckntr- 

Lonchocarpus densiflorux^ as fish- 
poison, 234 

Maize (see Zea) 

Mamoorie (see Carludoricaplvmi' 

Manicole palm (see Euter2te ole- 

Mannicaria 9acc\fera, fire rubbed 
from mid-ribs of, 257 
leaves used as thatch, 209 

Jifavritia Jlexitota, drink pre- 
pared from, 268 
drums made from stem, 308 
fruit of, eaten, 206, 267 
leaves of, used as thatch, 21 
mats made from, used in 
marriage ceremonies, 222 
musical instruments from 

leaf-stalk of, 310 
sails made from pith of, 207 
sandals cut from leaf-stalk, 

shields, for wrestling, made 

from, 327 
string from fibre of, 283 

Maximiliana regia^ * couvadcy 
use of in, 218 
dartfi for blow-pipe from, 301 
fruit of, eaten, 206, 267 
leaves used as thatch, 210 
oil from, 315 

Mimusopii batata, fruit of, eaten, 

Mora exceUa, fruit of, eaten, 262 

MuUera monilifomm, as fish- 
poison, 234 

Keetandra Modicsi, seeds of, 
eaten, 263 



Plants used by Indians— <?^»<. 
Nigritia Schomhurgkii, fruit of, 

eaten, 267 
(Knocarpus ba^caha, leaves used 

as thatch, 210 
Orbigifffiia Sagotiij Trail, leaves 

of, use in basket-work, 282 
Ourali (see Strychnos toxifera) 
Paddlewood (see Aspidospervium 

Paripie-palm (see Guilielma ^pe- 

Peach-palm (see Guilielma spe- 

Pt'kea tuberciilogai nuts of, eaten, 

Plantain, wild (see Ilavenata guia- 

Purple-heart (see Copaifera puhi- 

Bappo (see Bambti^a.) (8se Spe- 
cies used for arrow-points.) 
Havenala guiafwnMs, leaves used 

as thatch, 210 
Rilk-cotton (see Eriodendrofi) 
iSmilax cayannensiSy fruit used as 

fish bait, 238 
Souari (see Pekea tuberculosa) 
iStrychnog toxifera, chief ingre- 
dient in ' curare ' poison, 311 
Tephrona toxicaHa, as fish-poison, 

Thevetia nereifolia, seeds of used 

as ornaments, 323 
Tibisiri (see string made from 

Mauritia flexuo$a) 
Tobacco, cultivated and prepared, 

used in incantation, 335 
Tooroo-palm (see (Ehwoarput baC' 

Troolie-palm (see Mannicariasac' 

Yarn- Yarn (see Lancewood) 
Yarro-conalli (see Tephrosia toxi- 

Yoarno (see Oaultheria vregon) 
Zea (* corn *), bread made of, 263 
Poisoned arrows, 243 
Poisoning fish, 233 
Poisons, preparation of, 310 
Polygamy, 223 

Pottery, method of making, 276 
glazing, 277 
baking, 277 
charcoal mixed with the clay, 

patterns on, 277 

POTTEBY — contin'ued 

only native forms well made, 278 
made by children as toys, 278 

Poultry, reason for keeping, 305 

Prayer, 367, 374 

Pshavacos, 159 

Quakes, 181 
Quarrelling, 325 
Queyu, 194 
Quippoo-writing, 39, 320 

Race, as expbessing an Indian 

gboup of certain value, 161 
Races, foot, 325 
Religion. See Animism 
RetaliatioD, 213, 214, 330 

Sails fob boats, 297 

Salt, use of, 265 

Sandals, used on savannah, 195 

Sandpaper, vegetable substitutes for, 

Sappooras, 275 
Savannah Indians, 171 
Scars, surgical, on the body, 196 
Settlements, 202 
Sexes, relation of — 

men, bearing toward women, 213, 

women, influence of on men, 215, 
Sexes, division of labour between, 215 
men, burn the field, 251 

clear forest for planting, 251 
hunt and fish, 227 
make basket work, 278 
boats, 292 
fillets worn by women, 

musical instruments, 318 
poisons, 310 

scale - lines for ham- 
mocks, 289 
weapons and ornaments, 
269, 298 
. prepare fibre differently from 
women, 284 
women, carry water and fuel, 215 
carry baggage when travel- 
ling, 216 
clean the house, 215 
cook, 215, 255 
gather the crops, 252 
make hammocks, 216 
make paiwari, 320 



S £X£S — c&ntinued 

women, make pottery, 275 

make queyus, 216 

make twine, 285 

nurse the children, 216, 219 

plant the fields, 216, 251 

prepare fibre diJSerently from 
men, 284 

renew the fires throughout 
night, 217 

sling hammocks for men, 321 

spin, 216 

wait on the men at meals, 

weave, 216 

weed the fields, 251 
Shell-mounds, 410 
Shield-game, 326 

Shooting, clumsiness of Indians in, 240 
Shoulder-ruffs, 199 
Signalling by fire, 249 
Silk-grass, 283 
Sky-land, 360 
Sleep, conception of, 343 
Spindles, 285 
Spinning, 283 

Spirits. See imder Animism 
Standing stones, 427 
Stone circles, 427 
Stone implements, 421 
Stone slabs for baking, 262, 427 
Stones, spirits of, 353 
String, 283 
Surianas, 280 
Swimming, mode of, 191 

Taruma Indians, 163, 170, 272 

Tattooing, 195 

Taurais, 158 

Teeth filed to a point, 38, 45 

Tents for canoes, 295 

Thatch materials, 210 

Thread, 283 

Tibisiri, 283 

Tiki, 298 

Tobacco, 317 

Torture, self-inflicted, reason for, 231 

Traders, Indian, 271 

Tribes, list of reported names of, 157 

list of genuine, 159 

classified list of all important, 163 

differences in language, 160, 165 
in habits, 168 
in physical characters, 167 
in geographical position, 1 70 

probable migrations of into 
Guiana, 171, 287 

Tbibes — continued 

different methods of spinning, 287 
special colours in feather orna- 
ments, 305 
special manufactures of each, 271 
differences in games, 326 
differences in dances, 324 

Tuara, 315 

Vendetta system, 329 
Villages, sites of ancient, 428 
Visions, belief in reality of, 346 

Waccawais, 158 
Wapiana branch, 162, 165, 198 
Wapiana, True, 162, 164, 165, 167, 160 
170, 172, 198, 203, 223, 263, 272 
288, 297, 299 
War-clubs, 298 
Warrau branch, 162, 164, 165 
Warraus, 162, 165, 167, 168, 170, 172 
194, 199, 202, 223, 245, 257, 271 
290, 326, 377, 378 
Wassi poison, 314 
Waterproofing baskets, et oet,, 278 
Water, spirits of, 253 
Weaning of children, 219 
Weaving, 288 
Weapons, arrows, bird, 244 
fish, 234 
game, 240 
harpoon, 235 
list of, 245 
poisoned, 242 
turtle, 239 
blow-pipe, advantage of, 245 

manufacture of, 300 
paraphernalia of, 246, 301 
poison for, 310 
bows, manufacture of, 303 
ornamental, 303 
useful, 303 
guns, 240 
war-clubs, 299' 
Whip-game, 326 
Women. See under Sexes 
Wood-skins, 296 
Wood-working, 292 

tools used in, 292 
Worship, 369 
Worumas, 159 
Woyawai Indians, 163, 272 
Wrestling, 326 





Abouyah (see DieotyUt iorquatu4i) 

Abouyah-tiger (see FeUs maorwa) 

AcanthyllU collarUt 70, 76 

Acouri (see DoMypraeta aguti) 

Adourie (see Dasyprocta aouchy) 

iEstu»-worm (see Mosquito- worm) 

AgeUtus imtkurni Nov. Sp. Sclater, 62 

Aguti (see Dagyproeta ayuH) 

Alcedo superciliosa, 121 

A. torquatay 121 

Alligators, 130 

Ampelis cayana, 116 

A. carulea, 116 

A.pompodoraf 116 

Anas autumnaliSy 31, 129 

A. mogohatuSf 31, 129 

Ant-bear (see Myrmecoplutga) 

Ant-eater (see Ant-bear) 

Ants(see a}aoEoUon,JScodema,Ponera\ 

147, 149 
Arapaima (see Sudis gigas) 
Ardea cocai, 122 
Armadilloes, 114 
Aulacoramphus sulcatus, 62 

Baboon (see Mycetes seniculns) 

Baboon bird (see Tkreiuedus militaris) 

Bats, 17, 115 

Bees, 160 

Beetles (see also Elator), 146 

Bell-bird (see Chawma/rhynohm ea/run- 

B^te-rouge, 143 
Bill-birds (see Toucans) 
Boa constrictor, 133 
Borers, Cane (see Rhynoophorus pal- 

Bufo agtia, 136 
Buprestis, 146 
Bush hog (see Dicotyles labiatus and 

B. torquatus) 
Butterflies, 144 

Calandra palmartMn (see Bhyncho' 

phoms palma/rvm) 
Calf -bird (see G-ymnooephalvs cahus) 
Camoodie (see Eunectes murina) 
Cane-borer (see JRhynchophoruspalma' 

ruM and Sphenophorus sacchari) 
Cants aza/rcBf 232 
C. oanorivorus, 232 

CaprimulguSy sp. var„ 13, 123 

Gapybara (see HydrocIuBrus capyhara) 

* Carrion crow ' (see Catkarist^ 

< Cashapan ' (see £hnys amazonica) 

Cassicus persictiSt 122, 181 

Caterpillars, 145 

Catharista aura^ 121, 125 

C, urvMtinga, 121, 125 

Caymans, 13, 15 

Centipedes, 143, 165 

Cervus savannarum, 114 

CervuSy var. sp. 114 

Chasmarhynchus cantneulatuSf 119 

C. roHegatvs, 119 

Cliatterers, 116 

Chclys mata-mata, 136 

Chigoe (see Pulex penetrans) 

Chrysothrix sdureus, 110 

Cicada, 155 

Cock-of-the-rock (seeRupicola croeea) 

Cockroaches, 155 

Ceelogenys paca, 19,29, 108 

Cooshie-ant (see Ecodema cepkalatis) 

Craoi alectoTj 119, 197 

Crotalvs horridus, 133 

Cratophagvs ani, 121 

C. major, 121 

Culnacanaro (see Eunectes murina) 

Curassow bird (see Crax alcctor) 

Curri-curri (see Ibis T^bra) 

Darter (see Plotus anhinga) 

Dasyprocta acuchy, 108 

B, aguti, 108 

Deer (see Cervus) 

Deer-tiger (see Felis ecnoolor) 

Belphinus, 40, 114 

* Demerara canary * (see Euphonia) 

Dicotyles labiatus, 54, 109 

B. torquatus, 109 

Bidelphys, sp. var., 114 

Ducklar (see Plotus anhinga) 

Duraquara (see Odontophorus gvia^ 

Bynaster hercules, 146 

Eiiton, 147 

Ecodema cephal^s, 149, 266 

Eel, electric (see Gymnotus elec- 

Elator, 146 



Elephant beetle (see Dynaster her- 

£viy» amasonieay 135 
JE, tractya^ 135 
Ihyth/rinvi ma4yrodon^ 137 
Bunectet murina, 71, 133 
Euphoniu minwta^ 118 
E. fHolacea, 118 
Enrypyga helias, 123 

Kaboori fly (see Simvliwn) 
Kairooni (see I>icotyles labi^itus) 
Keskedie (see Lanint rulphuratv*) 
Kibihee (see Natua) 
KingHsher (see also Alcedo\ 121 
King Humming-bird (see Topaza. 

King Vulture (see Sarcoramiphvs 


Felis ooneoloT, 111 

F. jagtLorundit 111 

F, ffuusrwraj 111 

F, nigra^ 111 

F, sp. (see Warracaba tiger, 111 

Fishes, 137 

Frogs, 12, 136 

Zabaria (see Trigonoccpluihii atrox) 

Labba( 'e Grlogenys paea) 

Lanitu sulphvrainSt 120 

Zeurtes antericaruif 121, 179 

Lipanyvs eineractu^^ 15, 118 

' Louis d'or ' (see Enphonia minuta 

and E. violacea) 
Low- low (see Silum^} 

OalicHt bairbara. 111 

Greenheart bird (see Zipanyiig citw 

Guana (see Iguana tuberculata^ 
Gymnoeephalvg ealvti*, 119 
Gymnotus electrums, 137, 138 

Hacka (see OalictU harba/ra^ 
Hacka-tiger (see Felis jaguevrundi) 
Haimara (see Erythrinus macrodon) 
* Hard-backs,' 142 
Heron (see also Ardea% 16, 122 
Honur6 (see Heron), 16 
Houma (see Sera*almo niger) 
Howling Monkey (see Mycetes teni- 

Humming-birds (see also Topaza 

pella and Troehilus Hcolor), 117, 

121, 124 
Hunting-ants (see Eciton) 
Hydroohcerui capyha/ra, lOS, 218 

Ihis rubra, 13, 116 

Ibis, scarlet (see Ibis rubra) 

Icterus jajnacaii, 122 

I. xanthornus, 121 

Iguana tuberculata, 18, 40, 130, 241 

Insects, 140 

Ixodes, sp. var., 154 

Jacohbi (see Psophia orepitans) 
Jagdmann ant (see Eoiton) 
Jaf2:uar (see also under Felis), 23, 132 
Jigger (see Pulex penetrans) 

Maam (see Tlnamus) 
Macaws, 117 

Maipuri (see Tapirus americanvs) 
Maipuri-tiger (see Felts nigra) 
Manatee (see Manatus aiistralis) 
Manatus australis, 40, 114 
Manoorie-ant (see Ponera cJavata) 
Maroodie (see Penelope) 
Mata-mata turtle (see Chelys mata- 

•Mocking-bird* (see Cauictu persi- 

Monkeys (see also Afycetes, Cliryno- 

thrix), 110 
Mora moroota (see Icterus jamacaii) 
Mosquitoes, 141, 151 
Mosquito-worm, 152 
'Mother-in-law of Scorpions* (see 

Phrynus renifarmis) 
Moths, 145 

Muscovy duck (see Musk duck) 
Musk duck (see Anas moschatus) 
Mycetes seniculus, 13, 111, 244 
Mycteria america/na^ 31, 129 
Afygale avicularia, 154 
Myrmeoaphaga didactyla, 112 
M.jubata, 111,266 
M. tamandua. 111 

Nasua socialise 114 

N, solitaris, 114 

•Negrocop * (see Mycteria americana) 

Nightjar (see Caprimttlgus) 

Ocelots, 112 

Odontophorus guianensis, 120 

* Old witch bird ' (see Cratophagus ani) 



Opassom (see Didelphy$) 
Ortyx eriitatus, 120, 128 

PACU (see Pacu myletei) 

Paen myletes, 59, 137, 235 

Parrajacima, 31, 121 

Parrots, 117 

Peccary (see Dicatyle$ labiatut and J). 

PeMlope, 62 

Perai (see Seramlme nig&r) 
Pkrynus reni/ormis, 164 
PhylloftoTna, 115 

Pl-pl-yd (see lApangu* eineraceus) 
Pimn fly (see Simulium) 
Plantain bird (see Icterus xanthomut) 
Plotvs anhinga, 122 
Porcupine (see Spkingurtu intidwnuf) 
Porpoises (see Delpkinui) 
Powis (see Crax cUector) 
Ptophia crepitans, 122 
Pulex penetrans, 163, 232 
Puma (see Felis concolor) 

Quail (see Ortyx cristatus) 

Qoashi (see Nasua) 

Quow (see Oymnocepludtu ealvus) 

Racoon (see Nasv4i) 
Battlesnake (see Cratalus horridus) 
Razorbills (see Rhynehops nigra) 
Reptiles, 129 
Rhynehops nigra, 17, 123 
Rhyncf'ophorus palTnarwn, 146 
* Robin * (see Leistes amerieana) 
Rupicola crocea, 62, 116, 127 

Sackawinki (see Chrysothrix tciu- 

Sand-flies (see SimiiUum) 
Sandpiper (see Tringa) 
Sand-wasps, 161 
Sarcoramphus papa, 125 
' Savann^ starling * (see Stumella 

Sawoko (see Cassicus persicus) 
Sciv/rus astuanSy 114 
Scorpions, 165 

Serasalmo niger, 137, 246, 301 
thluTus (sp. ? see Low-low), 137 
SimuUum, 27, 162 
Sloths, 114 
Snakes, 129, 133 

Snake-bird (see Piatus anhinga) 
Sphtnaphorus saeehari, 146 
Sphingwrus insidiosus, 114 
Spiders, 143, 154 
Spoonbills, 40 

Sporwing (see Parrajaeana') 
Squirrel (see Seiums ttstwtns) 
Sterna, sp. var., 123 
Sting-ray (see Trigan hystrix) 
StmrneUa ludovimna, 128 
Sudis gigas, 137 
Sunblrd (see Eurypyga helias) 
Swifts (see AeanthylUs ooUaris) 

Tapis (see Tapirus amerieanus) 

Tapims amerieamis, 14, 79, 109, 301 

Termites, 150 

Tern (see Sterna) 

Testudo tdbtUata, 136 

Threncedus mUitaris, 116 

Ticks, bush (see Ixodes) 

* Tigers '— 

Abouyah-tiger (see Pelis macru- 

Deer-tiger (see F, eonoohr) 
Hacka-tiger (see F. jaguarundi) 
Maipuri- tiger (see F. nigra) 
Warracaba- tiger (see p. Ill) 

Tiger-bird (see Tlgrasoma hrasiliense) 

ligrasoma hrasiliense, 122 

Tinamus, sp. var., 120 

Toad (see Bufa agua) 

Topaxapella, 117, 124 

Tortoise (see Testudo tahulata) 

Toucans (see also Aulacoramphfts), 
13, 62 

Triton hyxtrix, 137, 138 

Trigonocephalus atrox, 133 

Tringa, sp. var., 123 

Trochilus hieolor, 121 

Troupial (see Icterus jamucaii) 

Trumpet-bird (see Psophia crepitans) 

Turtles (see also Fmys and Chelys), 
18, 40, 63, 135 

Va/neU^u guianensis, 128 
Yicissi duck (see Anas avtumnalis) 
Vultures (see also Catharista and 
Sareoramphus), 121, 125 

Wallababa (see Ampelispompodora) 
Warracaba (see Psophia crepitans) 
Warracaba- tiger, 111 



Wasps, 151 

Water-haas (see Bydrocharus oapy- 

Whinga (see Dicotyle$ IdHatus) 
Whipsnake, 135 

White ants (see Termite$) 
Wood ants (see Termites) 

Yackman ant (see ^fiton) 
Yawarri (see Didel^hys) 


Abolbt)da, 36 

JEta-palm (see Matuntia flexuam) 

Altophila (upera^ 94 

Ancuca/rdium rhinoca/rpm^ 268 

Anarmasm, 283, 303 

Andromeda, 85 

Afithwrivm aeaule, 210 

Apeiba, sp. ? 257 

Arohytocea, 84 

Artooa/rpu9y sp. ? 277 

ArundiTia/ria Schombivrgkii, 300 

Attpidospermum exoelsum, 297 

Astracaryum tticwmaidei, 179, 259, 

267, 316 
Avioennia iiitida, 4 

BactrU pahutrUy 102 
B. tricospatha, 97 
Bamboo (see Bambusa) 
Bambusa, 95, 242 

species used for arrow-points, 25 
Be/aria, 84 
Bignonia chicka, 316 
Bixa orellanOf 316 
Bonnetia, 84 

Booba (see Iriartea exorrhizd) 
Brocchinia cordylinoides, Nov, Sp., 

66, 69, 74 
Bramelia, 283, 284, 303 
Brofimum AubleHi, 212, 303 
Byrsonima verbaseifoliay 37, 106 

Clibadium (uperum, 234 
Clitoria guianemiSf 37 
67im«, 85, 95 

Cokerite (see Maximiliana regia) 
Connami (see Clibadium a*perum) 
Copaifera puHflora, 296, 303 
Courida (see Avieennia nitida) 
Crinum oommelyna, 101 
OuTotella amiericanay 298 
Cyperus (should be Thvrnia Nov 
Gen., Hooker), 75 

Besmoncus, 29, 92 

Brosera (NOT rotundifoUa, as stated 
in text), 69 

Bperuafalcata, 102 
Ej)idendro7i, sp., 86 
Eriocaulon, 84 
Eriodendron, 246 
Bvgenia, sp., 5 
Euterpe edulis, 100 
i?. oleracea, 203, 207 

Ferns (see Alsophila, Oleicheniay 
H&tniteUa, Lyyodium, Nephrolepit, 
Oleandra, Polypodivm, Pteris, Tri- 

Ferns, filmy (see THohomanes) 

Cakeealli (see Lecythii ollaria) 
Caladivm arborescens, 94 
Cahpogium ctervleum^ 91 
Capsicum, 251, 311, 369 
Carapa guianensi*, 314 
Carludavica plumierii, 92, 267 
Coma grandis, 183 
Cattleya, 85 

Cecropia peUata, 104, 252, 298 
* Chocolate, wild* (see Pachira 

Ganltheria vregan, 257 

Getiipa americana, 237 

Gentians, parasitic (see Fflyria) 

Geonama bacculifera, 97, 209 

Gleichenia, 94 

Greenheart (see Nectandra Boduei) 

Guava, water (see Psidinm aromati- 

cum and P. aqv/iticum) 
Gmlielma speciosa, 267 
Gynerium saceharoides, 217 



Hackia (see Tecovia) 

Haiari (see Lonchocarpn^ defmflorui) 

Uaiari-balli (see Mullera manili- 

Jffemitelia maorocarpa, 94 
Hevea Spruccana^ 238 
Hibiscvs tiliaceus, 103 
HippeoKtrum solandratflortimi 37, 40 
II, equestre^ 204 

Hipponai (see Parkia pendula) 
Hnmerinvi Jioribundnmy 96 
Hyawa (see Idea lieptaphyll^i) 
HymetKea cmirhariey 296 
Hymenoeallu gumn^nsUt, 101 
Hypoici$ breriscapa, 37 

Idea heptaphylla, 96, 1 77, 294 
ImutopkyUum ro8tni7n, 149 
Inga meUsneriana, 103 
Iriartia exarrhiza, 100, 209, 210 
ItchnotiphonyS^,,^^. 229,278, 280, 295 
Itnrite (see Ischnosiphon) 

Janipha manihoty 263, 293 
JtUropka urenSy 105 

Kakeballi (see LecythU ollaria) 

KUlmeyeray sp., 85 

Eokerite (see Maximiliana reffia) 

Lacig alatay 61, 106, 235 
Lance-wood, 257 
LecythU olltvriay 72, 194,318 
Lonchoearpus denHfloruSy 234 
•Long John' (see Triplaris mrina- 

Lycopodiumy 94 
Lyffodhim-y sp., 94 

Afahae (see Hibucus tilia<ieui) 
Mammoorie (see Carlvdovica plv- 

Manioaria mcciferay 92, 99, 267 
Manicole (see Euterpe exorrkizd) 
Mangrove (see Rhizophora mangaV) 
Manihot vtilusimay 260 
Maroetm taxifoluiy 83 
Marcyravia umbellatay 102 
Mawritiajlesnwsay 33, 37, 92, 98, 104, 

195, 206, 210, 222, 267, 283, 297 
Maximdlmna regia, 92, 103, 206, 210, 

Melastomay 85 

Mimu9oj}9 balatHy 267 

Mocco-mocco (see Caladium arbo- 

Mongtera obliqiuiy 94 

Mora excelsa, appearance of, 6, 297 
distribution of, 2 
seed eaten, 262 
as timber tree, 2 

Mouriera flfivintiliSy 106 

Mullera monili/ormity 234 

Nectandra Rodi4»iy distribution of, 2 

as timber tree, 2 

seed eaten, 263 
Nephrolepis acxitay 103 
Nigritia Schomburgldiy 267 
Noranlea auianensu, 90 

Odontoglogstim, 85 

(Enocarpus baccaba, 181, 210 

Oleandra hirtellay 94 

Oficidium, 86 

Orbigignia Sagotiiy Nov. Sp. Trail, 

100, 282 
Orchids (see Cattleya, Sobraliay Epi- 

dend'^ony MatophyUum, OdantogUn- 

suMy Onoidium) 

Pachira aquaticoy 6 

Palms (see Attrocarynmy Baetrisy 

Desmancus, Euterpe, GeonomOy 

Iriarteay Manicaria, Mauriiuty 

Mascimiluinay Orbigignia) 
Parkia jfendula, 90 
Pamjloray sp. ? 40 
P.fastiday 252 
P. lavrifolitty 252 
Passion-flower (see Pamflora) 
Pekea tuberonlosoy 179, 267 
Petrcea marliamay 73 
' Plantain, wild * (see Ravemla guia- 

Polypodium deoumanumy 108 
Posoqueria longijhray 74, 91, 95 
P. aquaticum, 26, 103 
Psidium aranuUwum, 26, 103 
Pteris aqmlina, 67, 74 

Ravenala g^iiavengiSy 93, 177, 210 
Razor-grass (see Sderia teifuiens) 
Rhizapluyra vumgalj 4, 100 

Sdrpv-s paradoanis, 105 
Sderia gd/ndens, 9, 252 



8ela{finellat 94 
Smilax cayannensii^ 238 
Sobralia, 67, 74, 84, 85 
Sooari-palm (see Attrocaryum vul- 
gar e) 
Strycknog toxifera, 311 
Sun-dew (see Vrosera) 
SfcartsiOy 97 

Taubenebo (see JTumirinm floribun- 

Tecoma (see Hackia), 90 
Tepkrosia toxicaria, 234 
Terngtrortiia^ 85 
Thevetia nereifolia, 323 
Thihaudia, 84 

Thumia^ Nov. Gek., Hooker (see 

Tillandsia mneoides, 94 
Triohomanes PrieuHiy 64 
TriplarU 9urinamengiSy 90, 104 
Troolie (see Manicaria saocifera) 
Trumpet- wood (see Cecropia peUatd) 

Victoria regia, 14, 31, 143 
Voyriay sp. var., 62, 98 
Voyschia, sp. ? 85 

Wallaba (see Fperua falcata) 

Tabbi-Yabbi, 267 

Yarro-oonalli (see Te2)hrogiatoaAoaria) 

Yoamo (see Oaultheria uregan) 





YC 894b2